Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Confessions of Catherine de Medici by C.W. Gortner (Book tour)

The Confessions of Catherine de Medici by C.W. Gortner
(Rated: S, V, P)
Ballantine Books
ISBN: 978-0345501875
Published May 24, 2011
Trade Paperback, 420 pages

Reading C.W. Gortner is like stepping into the past and into the intimate life of a historical character we think we know. But Gortner's impeccable research coupled with his talent for bringing out the possibilities of what may have happened both from a historical and human standpoint easily captures the reader until he is swept away into an emotional journey.

The Confessions of Catherine de Medici does exactly this. It is the personal tale of one of the strongest and controversial women who ruled France during the most difficult years of religious warfare when Protestants, also known as Huguenots, wanted freedom to worship. The story begins when she is a child and flees her native Florence and follows her tumultuous marriage to a king whose mistress took over the raising of Catherine's children and on into her fight to keep her sons on the throne until her death.

It's true that Catherine was ruthless, but she also suffered considerably. There were times when my heart ached for her and other times when I shuddered at the lengths she went to produce an heir for France and to keep the Valois line alive. With the Guise family and the churches vying for power she had to be cunning and forthright if she wanted to stay in the game. Treachery, betrayal, warfare and death were a constant in her life. Gortner brings all of this out with superb storytelling. It's an absorbing tale. Four hundred pages and not one boring scene.

Needless to say, this book propelled me to research more about this much-maligned Queen and the events that surrounded her life. I love books that teach me history through a fascinating story. This is an ambitious novel and Gortner meets the challenge with a well-written and well-told story. After reading and loving his last book The Last Queen, I did not expect any less. Fans of historical fiction will not want to miss this one.

Note: There are several explicit sex scenes in this novel. The massacre of St Batholomew's Day is also described in horrific detail. Catherine does consult with an astrologer and she herself has visions of her future. Like many of her time it was believed that being a seer was a gift from God. This paranormal aspect does not dominate the story but is part of it.

About the Author:
C.W. Gortner is the author of the acclaimed historical novels The Last Queen, The Confessions of Catherine de Medici, and The Tudor Secret. He holds an MFA in Writing with an emphasis on Renaissance Studies from the New College of California. In his extensive travels to research his books, he has danced a galliard in a Tudor great hall and experienced life in a Spanish castle. He is also a dedicated advocate for animal rights and environmental issues. Half-Spanish by birth, he divides his time between Northern California and Antigua, Guatemala. You can visit the author online at or his blog at

You can read more reviews on his tour stops here.

I will count this book toward the following challenges: Historical Fiction Challenge and Italy in Books Challenge

Disclosure: Thanks to the author and Pump Up Your Book Promotions for sending me this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.

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  1. Well, you've convinced me that I definitely must give this author a try!

  2. Thanks for the wonderful review of Christopher's latest. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I really loved this one too, because he strove to make her more human than history has.

    Christopher just signed a new book deal, so we'll be seeing more from him soon. I hope your readers take a minute to check out is work.

    Thanks again.


  3. I definitely want to read Gortner's books, even though I'm not a big hist fic fan. I'm a bit worried about the horrific details re: the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre in this one, though -- I don't have much of a stomach for such things. I have The Last Queen, so I'll obviously start there!

  4. @avisannschild
    There are not many details but enough to make the reader understand how terrible that day was.

  5. Thanks, Laura! I saw the movie Queen Margot, which has a horrific scene of the slaughter and it traumatized me!

  6. Thank you for this terrific review and for hosting me on my tour; always a pleasure to visit! I hope your readers enjoy the book.

  7. @C.W. Gortner
    Thanks for stopping by! As a writer, I appreciate not only your novels but your friendliness and warmth toward your readers and book bloggers.

  8. This sounds amazing. I am definitely adding it to Wish List.

  9. This sounds a good book! I love books that teach me things while giving me a good story. I'll have to check it out.


Thank you for commenting! I appreciate your feedback.

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