Friday, January 22, 2016

Book Review: Medici's Daughter

Médicis Daughter: A Novel of Marguerite de ValoisAuthor: Sophie Perinot
Publication Date: December 1, 2015
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books

Winter, 1564. Beautiful young Princess Margot is summoned to the court of France, where nothing is what it seems and a wrong word can lead to ruin. Known across Europe as Madame la Serpente, Margot’s intimidating mother, Queen Catherine de Médicis, is a powerful force in a country devastated by religious war. Among the crafty nobility of the royal court, Margot learns the intriguing and unspoken rules she must live by to please her poisonous family.

Eager to be an obedient daughter, Margot accepts her role as a marriage pawn, even as she is charmed by the powerful, charismatic Duc de Guise. Though Margot's heart belongs to Guise, her hand will be offered to Henri of Navarre, a Huguenot leader and a notorious heretic looking to seal a tenuous truce. But the promised peace is a mirage: her mother's schemes are endless, and her brothers plot vengeance in the streets of Paris. When Margot's wedding devolves into the bloodshed of the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre, she will be forced to choose between her family and her soul.

Médicis Daughter is historical fiction at its finest, weaving a unique coming-of-age story and a forbidden love with one of the most dramatic and violent events in French history.

Besides, I tell myself, as I twirl in my somber black gown, Mother would not solicit his hand for me if there was truly something wrong with him.

“You are my princess, not his, and I would not have you as far away as Spain however important the crown. Not even to please Mother.”

The kiss is brief, but the Duc is right: its urgency and the fear of being discovered make it intensely exciting. “Now,” he says with a smile, “I am ready for battle.”

A well-written historical fiction novel is really the best kind, at least in my mind. Medici’s Daughter follows Marguerite de Valois, Catherine de Medici’s daughter. Drama surrounds Marguerite’s life from the very beginning, and the entire story covers a ten year time span. Margot, short for Marguerite, narrates her own story and her voice is absolutely tantalizing. Readers will soon find themselves wrapped in drama, politics, and Margot’s power struggles. Following Margot had its ups and downs, I felt for her in a sense because she was always trying so incredibly hard to please her famous, always in the limelight mother, Catherine. On the other hand, Margot made some choices throughout the novel that I had to cringe at a little bit, but I must say that I loved reading this book from her perspective, when at first I thought I might not.

Not only do readers get an inside look into Margot’s life, but we get to enjoy the company of her entire family. Catherine shows up, of course, in all her devilish glory, as well as some of Margot’s siblings: Charles and Henri. The center of the story I feel is Margot’s love choice, which happened in a time when princesses did not make their own love matches. I felt that everything was so well-done and as dramatic as I am sure something like this played out, Perinot managed to write with class and sophistication. Margot had some difficult choices to make and really had no one that she trusted. Every character was out for self and I had no clue who was going to stab whom in the back next. Catherine is terrifying; let me just reveal this up front. Everything about this novel was so fantastically written.

***A free copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Thomas Dunne Books in exchange for my honest review***

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