Jean Marie's Reviews > The Serpent and the Moon: Two Rivals for the Love of a Renaissance King

The Serpent and the Moon by Princess Michael of Kent
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's review
Sep 23, 2010

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bookshelves: biography
Read in September, 2010

Oh dear. I was looking foreward to this so much because 1.) Catherine de' Medici was an amazing intelligent de facto ruler of France for some 30 years and Diane de Poitiers was an epic mistress to King Henri II so I thought this would be about the relationship between Catherine, Diane and Henri and how they all dealt with one another. But I'm sorry to say I learned nothing more about Catherine than I already knew other than how she bounced around convents for her protection as a child. Even the information about Diane is short, scattered, and reptitive throughout what I would call a biography of Francios I and Henri II.
While I understand that Diane and Catherine were parts of Francios' court there's more information about him in this book than about the two women who are supposed to be the main topics. While Francios is a fantastic topic and definitely a man worth a biography, that's not why I bought this book. Another problem I had is the obvious, blatant skewing of bias against Catherine. H.R.H Princess Michael is a descendant from both Catherine and Diane (since those two were cousins) but she's firmly in Diane's party. She says in her author's note that's because she has a fascination with black and white a la Diane. While I would usually find this very cool that a person is identifing with her ancestor, yet I kept thinking throughout this book that if Princess Michael could she wouldn't want to be related to Catherine at all. While she does call Catherine intelligent and clever, she still calls her fat, ugly and all she can do is "hate and wait". Diane, while she was a good person, is portrayed as a Saint of France, Catherine is portrayed as the disfigured merchant's daughter.
It's really quite sad.

If this was a book based on the reigns of Francios and Henri, it deliviered. It's well written, the details and research are impeccible. However, it was to be a book about Catherine and Diane and in that it failed. If you want to learn about these two interesting women of history, I'd try another book.

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