Gortner, C.W. The Confessions of Catherine de Medici. Ballantine. Jun. 2010. c.416p. ISBN 978-0-345-50186-8. $25.
History has depicted Catherine de Medici (1519–89), wife of one king and mother of three, as a grotesque monster, poisoning and murdering to gain and maintain control over the French throne. After the death of Henri II, she began the struggle of her life—keeping one son after the other on the throne through the religious wars that threatened to tear France apart. In this meticulously researched novel, Gortner (The Last Queen) gives us a Catherine who is passionate yet sometimes naive. Most of her decisions following her husband's death are made to keep peace in France or safeguard her children. Yet she is still held responsible for the 1572 St. Bartholomew's Day massacre, in which thousands of French Protestants were slaughtered. VERDICT While the Catherine depicted here is in some ways similar to Jeanne Kalodigris's protagonist in The Devil's Queen, Gortner breathes more life into his queen. Historical fiction fans will appreciate the vivid details of Renaissance France. [Library marketing.]—Pamela O'Sullivan, Coll. of Brockport Lib., SUNY