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Madame Serpent: A Catherine de' (Catherine de Medici #1)

3.86  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,287 Ratings  ·  83 Reviews
Fourteen-year-old Catherine de’ Medici arrives in Marseilles to marry Henry, Duke of Orleans, second son of the King of France. The brokenhearted Catherine has left her true love in Italy, forced into trading her future happiness for marriage into the French royal family.

Amid the glittering fêtes and banquets of the most immoral court in sixteenth-century Europe, the relu
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ebook, 416 pages
Published July 3rd 2012 by Touchstone (first published January 1st 1952)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Sarah (Presto agitato)
Okay, I know this book isn't exactly serious literature. It's probably not fair to be nitpicky about historical accuracy.

But Italy was not a country in the 1500s. Not politically, not linguistically, and definitely not like this:

"Oh, our poor country, Sebastiano! Our poor suffering country! I know how you feel. You and I would die for our country." (pg. 118)

"Yes, Sebastiano," she said, "for the sake of your country you would gladly die a thousand deaths. . .your name would be remembered through
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Matt
Jul 14, 2016 Matt rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Plaidy has been called one of the great historical fiction writers of the 20th century, particularly in her focus of European history and the female players that shaped its development. In this, the first of a trilogy, Plaidy invites the readers into the world of Catherine de Medici. As with many young women of the time, she was a pawn on the chessboard of European peacemaking, where marriages helped not only strengthen alliances, but allowed monarchies to oversee larger pieces of the European p ...more
Rabbit {Paint me like one of your 19th century gothic heroines!}
This book was amazing. Not necessarily the best book ever written, but it was entertaining as fuck. Also trashy. Also crazy the more you read.

I was rooting for Catherine hardcore. She was a vicious she-devil but I could understand why. She was a pawn, but she used that to her advantage.



Also Anne, I wanted to hate, but she made such a good villain to Catherine.

Trigger Warning: Animal abuse and death.
Lígia Bellini
Aug 04, 2015 Lígia Bellini rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Catherine de' Medici was educated to never show her emotions or sentiments. Sadly, that was one of an important thing, to make her become a cruel woman. Since i study/read aboutSt. Bartholomew's Day massacre and read and watched the movie "La Reine Margot", i never forget the fanatic catholic woman, connected to poisons and necromancy! I was surprised to know that a Queen, could be so evil! But, i know that everything happens because of something. And reading the book, i could learn that she had ...more
DaveA
Aug 18, 2012 DaveA rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An historian friend of mine called Catherine de Medici a "formidable woman." Before I read this book, I knew almost nothing about her, but this book certainly doesn't portray her as a "formidable woman." It shows her more as a frail, meek, tormented woman who has been for the most part abandoned by her husband. The title is a total misnomer. It shouldn't be called "Madame Serpent" but rather "Madame puppy" or "Madame mouse." Additionally, the book ends shortly after the point where Mary Stewart ...more
Jennifer
Apr 20, 2009 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my first Plaidy book and I enjoyed it. At first I thought it was dragging along, but once I remembered this was book one of the trilogy, it all made sense. This book re-imagines the events that eventually shaped Catherine de Medici into the woman she would become. Catherine went to France wide eyed and innocent and quickly became disillusioned. Although she loved her new father, Francis I, and his court, she never gained the courts full acceptance. Catherine was on excellent terms with ...more
Jessie  (Ageless Pages Reviews)
Decent, if not groundbreaking. Occasionally stilted and weighed down with expositionary dialogue, but nonetheless an engaging read and look at the life of one of France's most infamous Queens. Though Madame Serpent was definitely not the best Jean Plaidy novel I have ever read, I can say I enjoyed it - for the most part - and that it was worth the $10 for the ebook.
Shoshanah
Oct 25, 2014 Shoshanah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's been over two years since I've last read a Jean Plaidy book, which is a little crazy knowing that ever since college I've considered her one of my favorite historical fiction authors. (Just looking at my goodreads stats gives you an idea how much since I've read 17 books by her since 2007 compared to my second most read author at 10.) There's just something about how many historical places and periods she wrote about and how many details she's able to include to I can't help but be excited ...more
Billye
Jul 21, 2014 Billye rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The story of King Henry 2 of France- 1547- who was the son of Frances 1st of France- a very strong figure who was a lover of many women. His son, Henry 2 was married to Catherine de Medici from Rome and a member of the Medici family of tradesmen with Lorenzo Medici of Florence- lover of art and very powerful. Henry, as a youth was enamored by a women 20 years older than him, Diane de Poitiers, who after he became king was his lover and controlled everything he did. she was very mean to Henry's w ...more
Ariana
May 18, 2014 Ariana rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book had a terrible start and an annoying plot, making me wish it was over when I first began reading it. I have no intention on finishing the series, and though I won't find out about the revenge taken (view spoiler), I won't consider it much of a loss regardless of my curiosity.

The entire novel was based off Catherine pining for the man who would never love her back, and her love felt forced because I never saw a reason for her to love him. All I was interested in
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Cynthia  Scott
Oct 27, 2012 Cynthia Scott rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was originally published in 1952 but has just been released in a quality paperback form. Two years ago I embarked on a serious read of historical fiction and non-fiction relating to the rise to power of the Tudor line in England. Catherine de Medici was Queen of France and her story touched on many of the same events. This is the first of a trilogy about her and gives excellent color to her early life in midst the political machinations of Rome and Florence, then to her loveless but prolifi ...more
Ruth
The title of this book is well-chosen. It refers to Catherina de Medici, who is portrayed as a vile and cunning woman. Death, pain and revenge are on her mind. She's driven by her longing for love, her want for power. Her character scared me, though I could understand how she'd grown to be evil.
The tale begins recounting cruel events that take place during Catherina her youth, continuing with details about her unhappy married life. Catherina is married of to a son of the king of france, who bec
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Jenni
Dec 08, 2011 Jenni rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am a huge fan of all written by Jean Plaidy! She is an incredible author; her attention to detail, her descriptions of the French monarchy and courts give you the feeling of being present in the time and place she is describing. In this first installment of Catherine de Medici, I was drawn to the Italian princess. She is so innocent, so full of dreams and aspirations; hopes and disillusions. You feel so sorry for her. She is sent to France to marry a prince she does not love, torn away from he ...more
Dulce Nevarez
Aug 08, 2015 Dulce Nevarez rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Supongo que como novela histórica tiene fallas con respecto a la fidelidad de los acontecimientos y sobre todo al hablar de un personaje tan enigmático como Catalina de Médicis, pero Jean Plaidy pudo cubrir esos huecos presentándonos el lado más amable de la duchessina, el lenguaje tampoco es totalmente fiel al usado en el siglo XVI, pero eso hace que el libro pueda ser leído de una forma más ligera, me gusto la forma en que la historia es escrita ya que nos envuelve en el mundo y las circunstan ...more
Gianna
Oct 24, 2014 Gianna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like Jean Plaidy's novels about the Tudors better. Having just finished Dumas's Queen Margot and encountered his vision of the much older and established Queen Mother, I was curious about Plaidy's more modern portrayal of young Catherine. The beginning of the book, describing her childhood, was just boring. The second half is more engaging. In it, Catherine comes forth as an emotional and vulnerable character. She is also learning some very expensive lessons in politics if not lessons in love. ...more
Phil Syphe
May 11, 2015 Phil Syphe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
All I knew of Catherine de Medici before reading this fictionalised account of her life was that she was a “bad” woman. I expected to dislike her character throughout this book, but despite a few “evil intentions”, I found myself on her side and making excuses for her whenever she went too far with anything.

This novel covers her time from the age of six through to thirty-nine. I had previously read an account of her after this period in a non-fiction work, namely a biography on Henry IV of Franc
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Lyn Stapleton
Jan 14, 2016 Lyn Stapleton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After reading Diane Haeger's The Courtesan, which is about Diane de Poitiers and Catherine de Medici, I though I would read more about the rivalry between these two women. One married to Henry II and the other his mistress. Both books were very similar (as you would expect with books written about well documented events in history). It was interesting that both writers descriptions of Diane and Catherine were opposite. Diane Haeger's Diane was blonde and her Catherine was dark. Jean Plaidy had h ...more
penelopewanders
No dust cover so I don't know which edition this would be. Hard cover anyway.
Interesting biography of Catherine de Medici's years married to Henry, King of France... but she's such an unpleasant person that it's not a very pleasant read. I felt sorry for her and kept wishing something would go her way, but at the same time she's so full of hatred.
Athena Ninlil
A sympathetic and well written account of Catherine de Medici's first years at the French court and her rise to power as queen of France and following her husband's death as the country's most powerful woman.
Elle B
Nov 23, 2015 Elle B rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Eska
Jun 03, 2013 Eska rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For a historical fiction lover (not just paying attention to romance), this was an absolute treat. I enjoyed the second one even more and am anxiously waiting to get my hands on Queen Jezebel!
An Odd1
Jan 16, 2014 An Odd1 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Catherine de'Medici 14 is raised by her uncle, Italy's pope, to hide her emotions, deprived of pet dogs (life changer?!) then first love cousin, ordered to wed Henry of Orléans, second son of France's king. Selfish lust for pretty boy never requited, she stays technically faithful, calls that "love". She is pathetic to blame her nasty nature on others. I dislike her, more over the years. She never matures, not even a convincing villain protagonist, like Heyer's Black Moth https://www.goodreads.c ...more
Ivana de Bona
Feb 07, 2016 Ivana de Bona rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
At first I loved Diane, she seemed so kind and nice, but the moment she became Henry's mistress my hate for her was born. The king Francois is was amazing, so wise and smart, yet so filled with love and admiration for beauty. He seemed as my kind of a man.

Even though I did have emphaty for the protagonist, Catherine she did some really stupid things I could not pass by. For example, her acted happiness. I understand that she only wanted to fool her enemies, but it didn't bring her any good eithe
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Sarahbella Foster
I'm a little conflicted with this book... it's not alike other novels that Jean Plaidy has written. for me the historical inaccuracy , the self deprecating image she portrays Catherine de Medici to have , and the extensive monologues, really dissapointed me. However, as always, Plaidy makes here characters truly come a live and at one point in the book I literally had to put it down because my hatred of Diana de Poitiers was so great and frustrating.

Overall , it is a decent read but do not expe
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Pame
Mar 27, 2009 Pame rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is my favorite book!
LibraryCin
This one is about Catherine de Medici. It starts when she is a little girl in Italy, and follows her through the time her husband, King Henry of France, dies. Catherine is in love with her husband, but has to suffer the humiliation of Henry preferring a woman much older, and merely tolerating his loving wife. Catherine has learned throughout her life how to hide her feelings and do her best to sway situations to her advantage. No one realizes how very clever she really is…

I didn’t know anything
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Cassandra
Nov 06, 2015 Cassandra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've heard of Catherine de Medici in the stories of others (particularly in books of Mary, Queen of Scots) but never from a book about HER. Plaidy does a good job of illustrating Catherine's earlier years, which are important to figuring out why she was the way she was as a woman. Even with her background, she still could have been a passionate, loving wife if Henry had only allowed her to be. Imagine how different history could have been then! A little bit of affection could have completely cha ...more
Kirsty
May 30, 2010 Kirsty rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my first Plaidy and I enjoyed it. I did find it a little slow, but I think this was more to do with the fact that I only had small blocks of time in which to read it and a novel like this is better read in chunks.

It tells the story of Catherine Medici, who is forced to move from Italy to France to marry the son of King Francis. As if the move to a different country - away from her family - isn't enough, we see her struggle to keep the attention of her husband on her, rather than his mis
...more
Heather
Madame Serpent by Jean Plaidy

Genre: Historical Fiction

When I started this book, I really didn’t know anything about Catherine de’ Medici and had only previously read 1 book by Plaidy. I picked up this book thinking that it would have more about Italy in it, seeing as she is a Medici, mistake! It’s about France!

I found myself immediately sucked into the world of Catherine, Alessandro, and Ippolito (her relatives). Not too much time was spent on her life in Italy, which I would have liked to have
...more
Xenia0201
Sep 19, 2013 Xenia0201 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the first book of Plaidy's trilogy of Catherine d'Medici, we meet Catherine as a young girl, the victim of her pope uncle's ambitions to marry a Medici into the French royal family. Catherine isn't received warmly by the French due to her parvenu Italian heritage but charms the king, Francis I and is equally enchanted by his persona. Her intended, Henri, is second in line to the throne and in love with a woman almost twenty years his senior, Diane de Poitiers. Diane's confident and intelligen ...more
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 3 Feb 12, 2015 10:18AM  
  • Courtesan
  • To Serve a King
  • The King's Pleasure
  • The Princess of Nowhere
  • Harlot Queen
  • The Confessions of Catherine de Medici
  • Brief Gaudy Hour: A Novel of Anne Boleyn
  • Pale Rose of England
  • The Countess and the King: A Novel of the Countess of Dorchester and King James II
  • Reluctant Queen
  • The Devil's Queen: A Novel of Catherine de Medici
  • Three Maids for a Crown
  • The Queen's Pawn
  • The King's Mistress
  • The Queen of Last Hopes: The Story of Margaret of Anjou
  • Duchessina: A Novel of Catherine de' Medici (Young Royals, #5)
  • Kathryn in the Court of Six Queens
  • Before Versailles: A Novel of Louis XIV
6590
Eleanor Alice Burford, Mrs. George Percival Hibbert was a British author of about 200 historical novels, most of them under the pen name Jean Plaidy which had sold 14 million copies by the time of her death. She chose to use various names because of the differences in subject matter between her books; the best-known, apart from Plaidy, are Victoria Holt (56 million) and Philippa Carr (3 million). ...more
More about Jean Plaidy...

Other Books in the Series

Catherine de Medici (3 books)
  • The Italian Woman (Catherine de Medici, #2)
  • Queen Jezebel (Catherine de Medici, #3)

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