My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I had a difficult time getting into the author’s previous book, The Last Queen, so I wasn’t sure what I would think about this book. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I really liked it. It may be because I have always had some sympathy for Catherine de Medici. Strong and powerful women in medieval times have never gotten a fair portrayal from (male) historians. And Catherine was certainly both to have survived what she did, and help her sons in their efforts to rule France.
The author doesn’t attempt to whitewash what Catherine did. And even her most sympathetic supporter cannot deny her ruthlessness. But he paints an understanding portrait of a woman who was forced to do what she did to preserve the crown for her sons and keep France from plunging into a religious war that would tear the kingdom apart. It’s a portrait of Catherine that is well-rounded and gives an accurate depiction of the forces she was up against.
The secondary characters are well drawn, and the book is very well paced. For those who enjoy well-written historical fiction, I highly recommend this book.