Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Confessions of Catherine de Medici” as Want to Read:
The Confessions of Catherine de Medici
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Confessions of Catherine de Medici

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  4,515 ratings  ·  383 reviews
The truth is, none of us are innocent. We all have sins to confess.

So reveals Catherine de Medici in this brilliantly imagined novel about one of history’s most powerful and controversial women. To some she was the ruthless queen who led France into an era of savage violence. To others she was the passionate savior of the French monarchy. Acclaimed author C. W. Gortner bri...more
Hardcover, 397 pages
Published May 25th 2010 by Ballantine Books (first published January 1st 2010)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Confessions of Catherine de Medici, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Confessions of Catherine de Medici

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
I would love to teach a course on historical female royal figures. One of my lessons would be comprised of females who have a bad reputation and I would have assignments to compare and contrast these women, their actions, and social perceptions; to that of strong women today. Who would these women in my lesson plan be? Mary Tudor, Mary Stuart (Queen of Scots), Eleanor of Aquitaine, Queen Isabella, Juana the Mad, and this woman: Catherine de Medici.

Although I view Gortner's work to be occasionall...more
Tea Jovanović
Da li zbog prevoda ili zato što sam čitala mnogo bolje napisane istorijske romane ova knjiga mi je največim delom bila dosadna i bledunjava... Dešava se, kad toliko mnogo čitam i zbog posla, da mi neke knjige budu dosadne ili loše a čitaoci se oduševe... :)
Aik Chien 인첸
The opening line of The Confessions of Catherine de Medici is simple yet powerful: "The truth is, none of us are innocent. We all have sins to confess."

Well, I have to say that I'm glad I had the chance to read this book, because it's amazing. Before reading this novel, I knew nothing of Catherine de Medici. To make sure that I have a vague idea of what I'm reading, I googled about Catherine de Medici. Turns out, she's a prominent historical figure in France. To be precise, she's the mother of t...more
Mar 06, 2010 C.W. added it  ·  (Review from the author)
The truth is, none of us are innocent. We all have sins to confess.

So reveals Catherine de Medici in this brilliantly imagined novel about one of history’s most powerful and controversial women. To some she was the ruthless queen who led France into an era of savage violence. To others she was the passionate savior of the French monarchy. Acclaimed author C. W. Gortner brings Catherine to life in her own voice, allowing us to enter into the intimate world of a woman whose determination to protec...more
THE CONFESSIONS OF CATHERINE DE MEDICI, by C.W. Gortner is by far the clearest, out-of the box-take on this usually overly vilified queen of France. This in depth biography-type novel reveals a Catherine that not many people know- and that in itself is incredibly original as well as refreshing.
The Catherine in Gortner’s book has been researched to the max- and although the author took the liberty of slightly altering names and events for creativity and flowing purposes (this merely avoided the...more
Jan 31, 2011 Jennifer rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Fans of royalty & historical fiction
Recommended to Jennifer by: A History of Royals Group Read
4.5 stars

This is one of the best HF's I've ever read. I was hooked from the very beginning, couldn't put it down and didn't want it to end.

The novel starts out with Catherine as a young girl in Italy, leads to her marriage in France to Henri (the second son of King Francis I), her role as the Dauphine, as the Queen of France and then finally as the Queen Mother. She stops at nothing to keep her family and country safe.

I'm so thankful that this was my introduction to Catherine de Medici, her li...more
Catherine de Medici has been called many names throughout history: The Italian Woman, Madame Serpent,
Jezebel, the Merchant's Daughter and the Black Queen. Now C.W. Gortner gives us another name to call her - woman.

The Catherine portrayed by Gortner is quite different than in previous novels I've read of her by Jean Plaidy (Catherine de Medici trilogy) and Karen Haper (Courtesan). As with Juana la Loca in The Last Queen, Gortner obliterates what we think we know about these amazing, yet controve...more

I have finished the book and want to say very clearly that this is a wonderful book. For me the the latter half is much better than the first, but you need the first to get acquainted with the characters. I did come to empathize with Catherine. It just took me a while. My sole reservation about this book is that love is poorly portrayed. This is not a romance novel. It is full of action and murder and poisoning and family bruhaha. You think you've got family problems. Forget it. You...more
This book has got to be one of the best royal fiction books I have read. Though the book covers many years of Catherine de Medici's life, the pacing is good. I had to force myself to put this book down because it held my attention so well. This was also a refreshing read after reading Mary Queen of Scots by Roderick Graham. Mary spent her life whining about how everyone had done her wrong, Catherine de Medici took charge and made what she wanted happen. I plan to read a biography about her to se...more
“At the age of fourteen, Catherine de Medici, last legitimate descendant of the Medici blood, finds herself betrothed to the King Francois I’s son, Henri. Sent from her native Florence to France, humiliated and overshadowed by her husband’s life-long devotion to his mistress, when tragedy strikes her family Catherine rises from obscurity to become one of 16th century Europe’s most powerful women.

Patroness of Nostradamus and a seer in her own right, accused of witchcraft and murder by her foes, C...more
Rio (Lynne)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Catherine de' Medici, wife to Henri II and mother of the last three Valois kings of France, was one of the most powerful French queens and is even today a very debated and controversial figure. To some people, she was a power-hungry, ruthless woman, responsible for many deaths and atrocities (one for all, the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre); but others see her in a more sympathetic way, as a competent woman and a caring mother, who did everything in her power to keep her children and her country...more
Jun 22, 2010 Theresa rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Older teens through adult
This book has left me breathless. No matter how many times I try to write a review that captures the essence and beauty in which it was written, I cannot do justice.

C. A. Gortner captures Catherine de Medici and brings her to life. So many times I've had to remind myself that this is fiction, and not taken straight from Catherine herself. Gortner makes her so real - so able to capture your heart with his masterful insight. He was brilliant at crawling inside her head and "becoming" Catherine.

I d...more
This was interesting, but not as good as I expected. It's possible my expectations were too high, but I really wanted a lot more from this book.

There were plenty of very powerful people in the 16th century who were afraid of Catherine de Medici and it's probably safe to say that there's a reason for that. As a widow with young children she preserved the throne for her sons, shepherded her daughters into advantageous marriages, and did the best she could to navigate the very dangerous waters of C...more
"I ask you, what could a woman do, left by the death of her husband with five little children on her arms, and two families of France who were thinking of grasping the crown—our own [the Bourbons:] and the Guises? Was she not compelled to play strange parts to deceive first one and then the other, in order to guard, as she did, her sons, who successively reigned through the wise conduct of that shrewd woman? I am surprised that she never did worse." ~Henri IV

C.W. Gortner's new historical novel...more
Catherine de Medici comes from a well established and notorious family. Raised without her parents, she is sent away from Italy at a young age and witnesses mobs in the streets throwing epithets to her family name as she journeys to France. She’ll live the rest of her life up to certain exacting standards, supported by the ghostly memories of her Pope uncle and aunt Clarice. To make her difficult life even more interesting, Catherine has a rare gift that’s noticed by none other than Nostradamus...more
Stephanie Dray
Though I will generally read anything about the Tudor dynasty, I generally shy away from the Renaissance in general and France in specific. I'm glad that I expanded my horizons by reading this novel. I learned stuff about one of history's bad girls and it opened the door for me to learn about this time period and this kingdom in a gentle way. Gortner's talent cannot be denied. His prose is powerful and effortless. And though I was slow to accept his narration as authentically female, it eventual...more
I absolutely loved this book. I can't really fault it - the story was exciting and compelling and so well-written.

Catherine de Medici is a woman about whom history is unclear - the general consensus is that she was a grasping, power-hungry, ruthless woman, playing her children and those around her like puppets.

But Gortner presents a different view of her: a woman who suffered at the hands of many - her family, the court, her husband - who was deeply mistrusted due to both her nationality and he...more
Jun 21, 2014 catzkc marked it as did-not-finish
I slogged my way thru Jeanne Kalogridis' book about Catherine (The Devil's Queen). I was really looking forward to reading this one. I think I started this one about a year ago, and almost got half way thru. I can't bring myself to try and pick it up again and slog thru this one too. There are too many other books I desperately want to read. Right now I'm the opinion that while she's certainly a figure of history, I don't find much about her that's interesting enough to warrant nearly 400 pages.
Another superb fictional autobiography by C. W. Gortner. I am in awe of his ability to work with primary and secondary sources and then distil from them a powerful, moving account of one of history's most controversial figures.

I studied the French Wars of Religion as part of a course on the Renaissance and so was somewhat familiar with the major players and events of this period. Gortner does provide enough background to cater to those without this type of foundation. I felt that this novel adde...more
Catherine de Medici was known as a seer(witch)by some, but to others she was the savior or the French Monarchy. She was sent from Italy, betrothed to Henri II, and becomes the Queen of France. With Henri, it was no love match. She was in the shadow of his mistress, Diane Portieres. But still, Henri and Catherine have 6 children together, and Catherine secures the throne for her sons. It is a poignant story, told through the voice of Catherine-a brave strong woman who determination to keep her so...more
Cheryl C.
Catherine de Medici is known throughout history as being a ruthless queen who poisoned her enemies, arranged the Massacre of St. Bartholomew, and who practiced witchcraft.

At the age of 14, the last legitimate descendant of Medici blood, Catherine departs Florence for France, to wed King Francois I’s son, Henri II. While knowing this was a political marriage, Catherine would hope for a good life with Henri; all too soon to discover he preferred his former governess, Diane de Poitiers, who he had...more
I really enjoyed reading a different version of the infamous Catherine de Medici, usually depicted as evil, heartless, cold, and a witch. There are always two sides to every story. This book shows that there just may have been a very loving, passionate Catherine, one which has been ignored through the years.

The author (one of my favorites) presents the many trials and tribulations that Catherine faced throughout her life. Offered as a bargaining chip to France to prevent war with Italy, she was...more
In a book, especially that with a first person view, the narrator is important. He or she decides for the reader whom to hate, whom to like, whom to empathise with. If the narrator fails, then the story basically falls apart. This was the case for this book. The failure started from the narrator herself, Catherine de Medici. She tried to convince me into sympathising for the husband who had made her suffer and then to fall for Coligny with whom she shared an intimate relationship, but she failed...more
It seems that each novel of this particular type (Queens, Kings, Tudors...) that I read, I fall a little more in love with History. Never really one for loving History or English classes in school, I am now a HUGE fan! C. W. Gortner is a new to me author and one that will be a favorite for a long time to come. His writing style is amazing, bringing History to life before the reader.

This Historical hovel of the Queen of France, Catherine De Medici, is absolutely above and beyond phenomenal. The s...more
J. Else
What an amazing story. I really knew nothing about the person of Catherine de Medici before this book. I read a preview of the book and was instantly hooked by the strong writing and detail of the time period. Its hard to fathom all that this woman went through. She was constantly in a struggle from age 11 onward. Yet she came out graceful and poised. Gortner is brilliant in the way he makes Catherine comes to life on the page. You can feel her sorrow as her life is coming to its end and her chi...more
LOVED it! I can finally say I have read something on Catherine De Medici. I gave it a go at “The Devils Queen” but I lost my stomach when it took a really dark and twisted turn. It was the only book in the past two years I was not able to finish. I wanted so desperately to read on Catherine that when I got wind last year of Gortner’s work in progress I figured I would bid my time and patiently wait for the new release. You have to know how hard it was to wait for this read; I really thought abou...more
Jenny Q
The challenges for an author tackling the life of Catherine de Medici are many: not only was her life longer than most, it was chock full of drama and tragedy, and marred by incidents and opinions that continue to taint her reputation to this day. I'm happy to say that Gortner does a fabulous job of interweaving the many pivotal, historical moments in Catherine's life with intimate moments and personal revelations, while addressing the rumors and ugly truths of one of history's most powerful wom...more
I was poking around at the bookstore and it seemed like half the books on the shelves were about the wives/daughters of Henry VIII. Isn't there any other interesting woman in history to write about?

Yes, actually. An Italian woman who ruled France during the same time period.

This book covers almost her entire life. It moved fast and at times I wished it would give more attention to the specific conflicts/intrigues she dealt with.

It is also exactly how I like a historical: big, twisty, and rich. T...more
May 23, 2011 Jodi rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
I do not know much about Catherine De Medici but knew she is a notorious figure in history. I enjoyed the book but probably would have enjoyed it more if I knew more about her, and France and Italy's history during the time that she lived. At any rate, I love a good piece of historical fiction and this book did not disappoint me! At times, Catherine was definitely ruthless in her decision making but I think she had to be just in order to survive!

I am always shocked to hear about brides being wed...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Madame Serpent (Catherine de Medici, #1)
  • The Devil's Queen: A Novel of Catherine de Medici
  • The Queen of Last Hopes: The Story of Margaret of Anjou
  • The Second Duchess
  • Courtesan
  • The Queen's Pawn
  • Pale Rose of England
  • The Sister Queens
  • Lady of the English
  • To Serve a King
  • Poison (The Poisoner Mysteries, #1)
  • Queen By Right
  • Three Maids for a Crown: A Novel of the Grey Sisters
  • The King's Mistress
  • Royal Harlot: A Novel of the Countess Castlemaine and King Charles II
  • Four Sisters, All Queens
  • The Queen's Governess
  • Signora Da Vinci
Bestselling author C.W. Gortner holds an MFA in Writing, with an emphasis in Renaissance Studies. Raised in Spain and half Spanish by birth, he currently lives in Northern California. His books have been translated in over 20 languages to date.

He welcomes readers and is always available for reader group chats. Please visit him at for more information.
More about C.W. Gortner...
The Last Queen The Queen's Vow: A Novel of Isabella of Castile The Tudor Secret (The Spymaster Chronicles, #1) The Tudor Conspiracy (The Spymaster Chronicles, #2) History's Great Queens

Share This Book

“The truth is, not one of is innocent. We all have sins to confess.” 20 likes
“Love is a treacherous emotion. You will fare better without it. We Medici always have.” 9 likes
More quotes…