The story of the homesick Italian girl who became the most feared woman in sixteenth-century France..
Sullen-eyed and broken-hearted, fourteen-year-old Catherine de' Medici arrives in Marseilles to marry Henry of Orleans, second son of the King of France. On the promise of a dowry fit for a king, Catherine has left her true love in Italy, forced into trading her future for a stake in the French crown.
Amid the glittering fêtes and banquets of the most immoral court in sixteenth-century Europe, the reluctant bride becomes a passionate but unwanted wife. Humiliated and unloved, Catherine spies on Henry and his lover, the infamous Diane de Poitiers. And, tortured by what she sees, Catherine becomes dangerously occupied by a ruthless ambition destined to make her the most despised woman in France: the dream that one day the French crown will be worn be a Medici heir...
Though Plaidy (a pseudonym of the late Eleanor Hibbert) is widely considered to have been one of the pre-eminent writers of historical novels, this reprint of the first in her bestselling Catherine de Medici trilogy may prove too lacking in action for contemporary genre enthusiasts. Young Catherine leaves Italy for the French court to marry Henry of Orl ans, only to discover that her beloved husband is desperately in love with his mistress, the manipulative Diane de Poitiers. As Diane orchestrates everything Henry does including when he sees his young wife Catherine is driven to bitterness and fury, and Henry neglects his duty to produce an heir. The royal couple finally has children, and Henry takes the throne as King Henry II. However, Catherine's struggles persist, as Diane is constantly given priority, to the extent that visitors kiss Diane's hand before the queen's. Aware of the tenuousness of her situation, and driven by the desire to see one of her children inherit the throne, Catherine must bide her time for revenge.