The Confessions of Catherine de Medici, by C.W. Gortner

Title: The Confessions of Catherine de Medici
Author: C.W. Gortner
Pages: 416
Publisher: Random House
Copyright: 2010
Format: Hardback
Rating: [rating:3]


I received this book for free from the publisher. All content and opinions are my own.

Welcome to today’s stop on C.W. Gortner‘s blog tour with Pump Up Your Book!

As a very young woman, the last of the illustrious Italian Medicis, Catherine de Medici is sent to France to marry Henri, the son of King Francois I. In France, she is shunned by her new husband in favor of his mistress and is reduced to bargaining for the son needed to secure her future. Catherine eventually carves out a place for herself in her adopted realm, but she is forced to fight for everything she gets. She seizes power to protect the crown for her children. She seeks compromise between the Catholics and the Huguenots to forestall war. She overcomes betrayal, wars, and death to become one of France’s most powerful women.

I have to hand it to Gortner. He pulls you into the story from the very beginning, the very first page. His writing flows – never detracting from the story. The story is where he is king. Catherine de Medici was fascinating, and he pulls a complicated life and set of historical events together into a coherent narrative. If nothing else, this book is an engrossing tale of a legendary woman.

But there are a number of things that didn’t work for me. The plot didn’t flow well. It is understandably difficult with a book spanning more than fifty years, but the pacing was very uneven. The last third of the book, especially, felt rushed. In fact, the whole book kind of fell apart for me in the last third. The idea of this book being written by Catherine herself seemed pointlessly inserted at the end. It took me out of the plot to question why this was necessary. I also felt that the characterization suffered in the last part of the book, because there were so many events to get in.

Though it didn’t completely work for me, historical fiction lovers and anyone interested in this period of French history will enjoy this mostly riveting look at one of history’s misunderstood women.

The Confessions of Catherine de Medici, by C.W. Gortner [rating:3]

Other Reviews:
Book Addiction
Booking Mama
Bookworm’s Dinner
Devourer of Books
The Printed Page
Tanzanite’s Shelf and Stuff

Categories: Fiction, Review Copy, Reviews


  • Cheryl Malandrinos

    Thanks for taking the time to review Christopher’s latest. I’m in the midst of reading it now. I enjoyed his other earlier release, The Last Queen, so I was anxious for this book to come out.

    Thanks again.


  • Josette

    I’ve recently heard of this book too and was immediately drawn to the cover. I enjoy historical fiction as it’s a fun way to learn about history. Sorry to hear that the plot didn’t flow well for you. I’ll see how when I get the chance to read it! :)

    Anyway, I like the look of your blog. I added you to my blogroll too.

  • C.W. Gortner

    Thank you for your thoughtful review and your praise; I’m glad you enjoyed the novel, in spite of some shortcomings you felt it had. I’m always very appreciative of blogger support, particulary of the time and consideration it takes to read and review. I look forward to visting again soon, and hope your readers will enjoy Catherine de Medici’s confessions.

    All best, C.W.

  • Wisteria Leigh

    “If nothing else, this book is an engrossing tale of a legendary woman.” This I totally agree with you.

    I know we disagree, but I loved this book. I think the strong personality of Catherine is what I was most intrigued by. I felt Gortner did a fabulous job and I couldn’t put the book down. I read this for Historical Novels Review where the review first appeared. I am planning on reading The Last Queen soon, so I’ll have to let you know.
    Sorry you didn’t like it as much as I did.

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