From Jeanne Kalogridis, the bestselling author of I, Mona Lisa and The Borgia Bride, comes a new novel that tells the passionate story of a queen who loved not wisely . . . but all too well.
Confidante of Nostradamus, scheming mother-in-law to Mary, Queen of Scots, and architect of the bloody St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre, Catherine de Medici is one of the most maligned monarchs in history. In her latest historical fiction, Jeanne Kalogridis tells Catherine's story—that of a tender young girl, destined to be a pawn in Machiavellian games.
Born into one of Florence's most powerful families, Catherine was soon left a fabulously rich heiress by the early deaths of her parents. Violent conflict rent the city state and she found herself imprisoned and threatened by her family's enemies before finally being released and married off to the handsome Prince Henry of France.
Overshadowed by her husband's mistress, the gorgeous, conniving Diane de Poitiers, and unable to bear children, Catherine resorted to the dark arts of sorcery to win Henry's love and enhance her fertility—for which she would pay a price. Against the lavish and decadent backdrop of the French court, and Catherine's blood-soaked visions of the future, Kalogridis reveals the great love and desire Catherine bore for her husband, Henry, and her stark determination to keep her sons on the throne.
In this soap opera rendition of 16th-century power and politics, the ruthless and manipulative wife of France's King Henry II, reviled for her role in the civil and religious wars that roiled France, is conned into a deal with the devil. After her arranged marriage to the future French king, Catherine de Medici dedicates her life to protecting her husband and his reign, bartering away her soul to ensure that she provides heirs. Seasoned historic novelist Kalogridis (The Borgia Bride) nails the palace intrigue and lush pageantry of the Renaissance, but can't get a grip on her heroine's slippery, troubled heart. Catherine confesses to a core of evil, and history certainly supports that view, but Kalogridis suggests that the real trade-off of Catherine's Faustian bargain was to become a royal doormat, swallowing her courage and pride to become a dutiful and ignored wife and mother. For all her passion and attention to detail, however, Kalogridis doesn't quite bring the powerful, tortured figure back from her historical purgatory.