The Italian Woman, by Jean Plaidy.
This book is the second of Plaidy's trio of books about Catherine de Medici. It also works as a stand-alone work, however.
In general, I thoroughly enjoy Jean Plaidy's books, so I was a little surprised that this one didn't really capture me and pull me in. In the first place, I found it highly annoying that the first part of the book focused nearly exclusively on someone whose relationship to Catherine de Medici went completely unmentioned. It was quite some time before I figured out who the woman was and why she might be important in a story about Catherine de Medici. Also, I found this book a bit tedious after a while -- the scheming of the two factions became repetitive, and there was simply not enough variety to keep my imagination fully engaged.
On the other hand, for someone who is familiar with the Catherine de Medici story and that period of French history, this is a nice addition to other versions of Catherine's life. There is nothing particularly objectionable about the writing, but at the same time the story is a little lacking in energy and momentum.
Over all, not a bad read, but not a real page-turner either. 3 out of 5.
I received an electronic review copy of this book from the publisher. This did not affect this review.