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

C.W. Gortner‘s third book, The Confessions of Catherine de Medici, has all the best elements of historical, royal fiction from political strife to women sold in marriage to keep the peace.  Like his previous book, The Last Queen which I reviewed, The Confessions of Catherine de Medici is chock full of drama as Catherine is taken from her home shortly after surviving an angry mob in Florence and betrothed to Henri, one of the sons in line for the throne of France.

“How little they know me.  How little anyone knows me.  Perhaps it was ever my fate to dwell alone in the myth of my own life, to bear witness to the legend that has sprung around me like some venomous bloom.  I have been called murderess and opportunist, savior and victim.  And along the way, become far more than was ever expected of me, even if loneliness was always present, like a faithful hound at my heels.

The truth is, not one of us is innocent.

We all have sins to confess.”  (Page 3)

Catherine learns of her gift at a very young age but is frightened by what her visions mean for her and her future.  Despite her misgivings about her gift, she relies on seers and fortunetellers to guide her path and that of her blossoming family.  Her marriage is in name only as her husband favors his mistress blatantly in court, and she is forced to endure the shame of it.  Catherine is a strong woman determined to maintain her pride and courtly manner even though it is constantly tested by Henri’s mistress Diane de Poitiers and the thorny politics of her new nation.

Enter, Nostradamus — yes, THE Nostradamus — to issue cryptic predictions and advice to Catherine as she and her adopted nation of France teeter on the brink of religious war.  His advice is invaluable to her as she navigates the political and religious turmoil of France, though his appearances are brief, almost as if he were an apparition.

“As I passed the alcove, I sensed a presence.  I whirled about.  I couldn’t contain my gasp when I saw Nostradamus materialize as if from nowhere.  ‘You scared me to death! How did you get in here?’

‘Through the door,’ he said, ‘No one noticed.'”  (Page 182)

The novel reads like a set of confessions from Catherine herself as she analyzes her past, her faults, and her passions.  Gortner crafts very strong, royal women that draw from historical fact and weaves in a captivating narrative that will leave readers struggling to adjust to their own lives once they’ve finished the last page.  The Confessions of Catherine de Medici will round out the character of the woman thought to be one of the most ruthless leaders of France as she acted as regent for her young sons, highlighting the motivations of her decisions at a time when there were no right answers.  One of the best books I’ve read this year.

Check out the Q&A about Confessions of Catherine de Medici.

About the Author:

C.W. Gortner‘s fascination with history is a lifetime pursuit. He holds a Masters in Fine Arts in Writing with an emphasis on Renaissance Studies from the New College of California and often travels to research his books. He has experienced life in a medieval Spanish castle and danced a galliard in a Tudor great hall; dug through library archives all over Europe; and tried to see and touch — or, at least, gaze at through impenetrable museum glass — as many artifacts of the era as he can find.

The Giveaway:

I have 1 reader’s copy up for grabs.  The giveaway is international.

***added bonus for the winner, a Catherine de Medici medallion***

1.  Leave a comment about what confession you hope to read about in Gortner’s book.

2.  Blog, Tweet, Facebook, or otherwise spread the word about the giveaway and leave a link in the comments.

Deadline is July 4, 2010 at 11:59PM EST


  1. blodeuedd says

    I actually like Diane de Poitiers, I read a book about her years ago and the love between them and the heartache, well i will not forget that..even if I did forgot who wrote the book. I really should give Catherine a chance, cos I always think as her as teh bad guy..

    What confession…hm, well, what she thought about the de Medici family

    blodeuedd1 at gmail dot com

  2. First, I have to say that from the very first review I read of this book last week, it has been on my must-buy/read list!
    I think that a confession that I’d like to read would be a way that she managed to get back at her husband for his treatment of her.


  3. Carol Thompson says

    The De Medicis and the Borgias have always seemed one of the most fascinating families in European history. I think they together with the Tudors are the families that eveyone has heard of.

    I would love to get a copy of this books and see what she considered her faults as against what history sees them as.

    Thanks for opening it up to worldwide entries.

    Carol T

  4. I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed this one! I just started it last night and actually stayed up late to read just one more chapter… you know how that goes! After I catch up on some blog reading, I’m definitely going back to the book. No need to enter me in the contest!

  5. Terri C. says

    Please enter me in the contest. I’m not sure about what confession I’d like to know about; I’m just really excited to read the whole book.

    I blogged about contest here, http://bit.ly/agQgWK

    comethespring at gmail.com

  6. I think I would like to learn of her confessions on her faults.
    thank you

  7. I hope to read a confession about the faults she had done in the past or her deepest secrets.

  8. Another one that sounds great from him. No need to enter me as I have both books; just need some time to get to them.

  9. C.W. Gortner says

    Thank you so much for your marvelous review; I’m very honored that you enjoyed Catherine de Medici’s story so much and hope your readers will, too. I look forward to visiting again soon.

    Best of luck to everyone with the giveaway!
    Warm regards, C.W.

  10. Not interested in the giveaway because I’ve already read it, but just wanted to say I enjoyed your review and I’m glad to see other folks liking this one as much as I did. I still haven’t read The Last Queen yet, but I do plan to. Now I’m glad I have it to read while waiting for Gortner’s next book (which I hear is about Queen Isabella).

    • You should read The Last Queen. I thought it was fantastic and covered a woman that I barely remember from history. I cannot wait for the book on Queen Isabella!

  11. You seem to really enjoy Gortner’s books. I’ll have to read them at some point. No need to enter me, though.

  12. i am very curious as to what this ‘confession’ is…

  13. Cheryl Malandrinos says

    Thanks for the stellar review of Christopher’s book. I’m in the midst of reading it now and can’t put it down.

    Instead of giving away the galley, we can offer your readers a copy of the book for the giveaway.

    We’re glad you enjoyed The Confessions of Catherine de Medici.

    All my best,


  14. I’m curious about the Huguenots, and also about her relationship with her father-in-law.

  15. Carol Wong says

    I would like to hear that she wished she had retained her patience and not lost her temper against the Huguenots.

    I would to read this book and learnb more about her.


  16. I’m reading this book right now and really enjoying it. C.W. Gortner has, amazingly, turned Catherine de Medici into a sympathetic character with motivations for what she does – his talent is very impressive!

  17. I love learning secrets and understanding the author’s take on history, this book seems great.
    I hope to read about a vividly imagined, and very possible explanation of her actions; and those conversations with Nostradamus definitely caught my attention 🙂


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