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The Italian Woman: A Catherine de' Medici Novel
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The Italian Woman: A Catherine de' Medici Novel

(Catherine de Medici #2)

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  953 ratings  ·  47 reviews
From the grande dame of historical fiction, the second novel in the classic trilogy—back in print after more than twenty years—brilliantly depicts the life of the powerful Queen who was loved by few and feared by many.

The second book in the classic Catherine de’ Medici trilogy from Jean Plaidy, the grande dame of historical fiction

When Catherine de’ Medici was forced to m
Paperback, 400 pages
Published January 1st 2013 by Atria Books (first published June 1st 1952)
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3.88  · 
Rating details
 ·  953 ratings  ·  47 reviews

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BAM The Bibliomaniac
The Italian Woman explores the middle stages of Catherine Medici's middle stages of her royal career as the powerful mother of kings. Much is based on contemporary hearsay and not modern historical reports.
Great events such as the St. Bartholomew Massacre are merely glossed over. There is no deep character development. Even Medici doesn't come across as the ruthless villainess her reputation states. As this the second book in a trilogy I'll read the third to finish the series.
Lígia Bellini
Aug 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another excellent reading! Jean Plaidy writes in such an interesting way, that makes you feel like you're seeing the court. On this books, she brings the story about Jeanne D'Albret, the leader Reformist and rival of Catherine. She had a strong personality and didn't hold herself, to act when she wanted something. It was interesting to know more about Henry de Navarre's mother. Sadly, she also paid high for her life, for being on Catherine's path. On this sequel, Catherine de' Medici plots all t ...more
Christina Baehr
Blah, but her research was good. Very unbalanced narrative as the story begins from Jeanne d'Albret's perspective and swaps midway to Catherine, for no apparent reason, other than that's where all the dirty deeds are happening. But who is the protagonist??

Honestly, the House of Valois was super yuck. They make the Tudors look good. No wonder so many French people chucked it and shipped for England. I would have, too. Plaidy has no interest in rehabilitating Catherine, in fact she probably goes a
Aug 22, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Italian Woman was my first Jean Plaidy and it was Catherine de Medici at her best. Unfortunately I read the middle book of the trilogy first but I can't wait now to read Queen Jezebel. Anything to do with the Medici family fascinates me - an enjoyable Bank Holiday read.
Jan 28, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the second in a trilogy about Catherine d'Medici. Jean Plaidy is a wonderful writer and does her best to stay within history while filling in the emotions and turmoil that makes up the very real lives of historical figures. I didn't read book 1, and this reads fine as a stand alone.
Annette O'grady
May 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
i thought this was a fairly good book but it did take me awhile to get into it
Tamara Louise Roberts
Being the second in the Medici trilogy the book focuses on the middle of Catherine de Medici's life. However, the first part of the book focuses on the early life of Jeanne d'Albret Queen of Navarre and how her developing relationship with Catherine from rival to enemy is fumed by jealousy and ambition. Fighting for control of the French throne through her sons Catherine finds danger at every corner but finds it easy to manipulate others to her whim. The Queen of Navarre only wants a quiet life ...more
Oct 15, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Honestly I continued reading this book because I felt it my duty to read the whole thing. I will probably never pick up a book by Jean Plaidy again. She takes the evilest, vilest rumors about history's most important people and breathes a weird, sadistic life to them. Reading this book, I felt no attachement to ANY of the characters. It was almost like reading something immature, a weak attempt at bringing these figures to life. Catherine de Medici may not have been innocent but to treat her as ...more
Mar 22, 2018 rated it liked it
This is the second book in the trilogy. Catherine is in her prime, having children and working behind the scenes in support of her husband. Another strong woman is brought into the picture, Jeanne of Navarre. Catherine considers her a rival and they clash in both political and religious fields. As there lives change with the death of the king and the marriage of Jeanne, their fortunes wax and wane. The unrest in the country leads to civil war and Catherine delves deeper into harsh political mani ...more
Yaz Pistachio
Apr 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. From this point of view, Catherine Dr Medici had good reason to become a cold, strong-minded, ruthless bitch. I'm only surprised that she didn't break out a voodoo doll on Diane de Poitiers. She definitely should have worked harder at being closer to her own children, though. Looking forward to the next two books, but I'm indulging in the First Ladies of America as a break.
Fun reading by Jean Plaidy and it balanced out the other Catherine Medici book I read last year (The Confessions of Catherine de Medici by C.W. Gortner). That book had a lot of compassion for Catherine and turned her adversary, Jeanne of Nevarre, into quite an antagonist that was easy to hate. In this book, I felt just the reverse. Plaidy seems to side with Jeanne and turns Catherine into a cold calculating temptress. It does not surprise me that this book was written in the 70s. Some of our evo ...more
Sue Law
Not as good as the first in the series, but still a reasonable look at the life of Catherine de Medici. This takes her from the death of her husband, Henry II, to the death of Jeanne d'Albret, queen of Navarre.
The pace is patchy, and unfortunately the last section of the book is the slowest.
Christine Cazeneuve
I gave it 4 stars because although I enjoyed the book I preferred the first one - Madame Serpent better. It was still intriguing but with the in and out of Jeanne of Navarre it seemed to venture off from Catherine. Looking forward to the final of the series Queen Jezebel!
Gustavo Rodríguez
Puede ser la traducción (o no) pero la narración no logra asestar un buen enganche para el lector. La historía de fondo por otra parte, aunque ligéramente pasada de fantastica, es un buen aliciente para continuar con los demás títulos de la saga.
Aug 10, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A bit repetitive and lacking in good storytelling, but interesting for the history of the times for those of us with an interest.
Michele Marie
Feb 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this!
Jun 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: solo-libros-2018
La narrativa cambio mucho, no sientes que es la misma autora, tal vez porque no es la misma Catalina, sigue siendo.muy interesante y lamentó no haber encontrado el tercero aun.
May 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Author Jean Plaidy has been a long time favourite author of mine. The Italian Woman is the second novel in a trilogy about Catherine de 19Medici and her nemesis, Queen Jeanne of Navarre. The first book in the series is titled Madame Serpent. I recommend reading that book first to get a good feel for the stories and characters in the second novel.

Both Catherine and Jeane are strong-willed, outspoken, intelligent, and dynamic. Since childhood, the paths of these stalwart women continually cross,
Phil Syphe
May 11, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rather than picking up from where “Madame Serpent” leaves off, this sequel backtracks several years, beginning by showing the reader one of Catherine de Medici’s greatest rivals, Jeanne of Navarre. Only when we reach the second of the three long chapters in this book does Catherine once again take centre stage, carrying on from where events in Book One finished.

There’s more scope in “The Italian Woman” than in “Madame Serpent”. Whilst Book One’s main focus was on Catherine, particularly her unre
3.75 stars

This is the 2nd book in Plaidy’s trilogy of Catherine de Medici. Catherine was known as Madame le Serpent and was often thought to have poisoned her enemies. She was power-hungry and cunning.

This book follows her through her husband’s death, during the time of her oldest son’s (Francis’s) reign, as well as during her son, Charles’s (who was thought to be mad) reign. Part of the book also focuses on Jeanne of Navarre, as – at this point in Catherine’s life – Jeanne and Catherine’s live
Sara W
Jul 25, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would really consider this worth a 3.5 rating instead of a full 4. This is the second book in Jean Plaidy's trilogy on Catherine de Medici. This book was better than the first book, but it was still kind of slow for me. It mostly dealt with the fighting between the Catholics and Huguenots in France. There were all sorts of comments about Catherine poisoning people or having them poisoned (especially those of lower rank), but you never actually witness this happening except for one or two times ...more
Nov 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh my, where to begin? It was definitely harder to feel any sympathy for Catherine in this book. I shudder to think of what she's going to become in the third novel in the series, because her humanity slips away a little more with every page.

The way the beginning of the book was laid out, I was confused - it turns out this book overlaps the previous one; it does not just pick up where Madame Serpent left off. Once I figured this out, I was okay, but it was strange to see it backpedal of a few c
Here as a ring... This was a follow up to Madame Serpent which I read a few weeks ago. I'm not sure I would have bothered to plow through if I hadn't had it here as a ring, which I admit is one of the reasons I like rings - they give me the extra impetus to make efforts with books I might just push to the side. I enjoyed being able to place all the names which were familiar to me thanks to the decades I lived in France but which didn't have much susbstance for me... Condé, Coligny, and on and on ...more
Jul 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
More about Catherine de Medici after the death of her husband, the King of France, Henry 2nd- she tried to ruled her 1st son Frances 2nd who was king and let him die from an ear infection because he was under the influence of the Guise family thru their niece Mary Queen of Scotts. Her 2nd son, King Charles 7th was mad and she greatly influenced him but he was so stupid that she longed for her 3rd son, Henry to become king. She poisoned many of her enemies and took part on one side and then the o ...more
Sherry Chiger
I know Jean Plaidy is considered a doyenne of historical fiction, thanks to her immaculate research and attention to detail. And I hate when a historical novel gets the facts wrong. But historical accuracy alone does not a gripping novel make. I felt that Plaidy forgot the cardinal rule of good writing: Show, don't tell. Instead we got lots and lots of telling--in sometimes clunky syntax to boot. The end result was that I felt I'd learned a lot about Catherine de Medici, her children, and her co ...more
Rebecca Hill
Sep 29, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Catherine de Medici is the most untrusted woman in France. She is however, the most understated woman in France as well. Kept on the sidelines for years, her enemies have no idea what she is capable of, or how far she will go to get what she wants, and what she feels she deserves.

In the Italian Woman, we see the nature of Catherine de Medici coming out, and her enemies are starting to realize that she is a woman not to be messed with. How far will she go to get her hearts desire?

Great read! I l
Sep 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The fascinating story of Catherine d'Mecidis and her time as queen regent in France up to the events prior to St. Barthelemy's massacre.
A well written and documented historical novel, in which all major characters are well drown and so strong the reader gets involve and even takes sides.
Even though madame Catherine did some terrible things, the portrait the author offers is that of a woman full of doubts, rancor, and power-thirst, but also a woman incapable of understanding or loving others.
Shelly Benson
May 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One thing that greatly disappointed me about this book (number 2 in the trilogy) was that very little mention was given to Diane after the King passed away. I was really looking forward to Catherine taking her revenge when it was in her power (finally) to do so. Otherwise, I enjoyed this book. It could be read out of sequence or on it's own. It didn't pick up right where book one left off at all.
Aug 26, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first two books in this three book series would have been MUCH better as a single (although large) volume. The second book is much better than the first. This one does give a lot more background information, although it still often skips over major events (wars) with a single sentence. It also fails to tell why she is oftente so timid in dealing with adversaries, but much better than the first.

Good read.
Dulce Nevarez
Aug 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Este libro no me fue tan grato como la primera parte, no es que estuviera mal redactado, pero Catalina de Médicis muestra su lado más obscuro y mezquino arruinando la vida de muchas personas y tomando decisiones que incrementan su impopularidad, sin embargo aparecen nuevos personajes como la famosa princesa Margot de Valois quien es presentada como alguien simpática e instruida.
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 1 Feb 12, 2015 11:08AM  

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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

Other books in the series

Catherine de Medici (3 books)
  • Madame Serpent (Catherine de Medici, #1)
  • Queen Jezebel (Catherine de Medici, #3)