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The Confessions of Catherine de Medici

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  7,686 ratings  ·  548 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 br
Hardcover, 397 pages
Published May 25th 2010 by Ballantine Books (first published 2010)
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Mary Holmes I love historical fiction. I thought this was a great read.

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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
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... :)
Alice Poon
Sep 08, 2015 rated it really liked it

After watching in 2014 the first season of the TV historical fantasy romance series “Reign” on CW channel, I was hooked. I didn’t miss the second and third season. It was this TV series that spurred my interest in the historical character Catherine de Medici.

This engaging novel is the third one I’ve read so far by the author C. W. Gortner, and he didn’t disappoint. With his mesmerizing prose I was quickly transported to tumultuous 16th century France, rife with bloody religious wars between Cath
B the BookAddict
Jul 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommended to B the BookAddict by: Chrissie

My laptop ate my review!

Loved the book. 4★
Jul 19, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars - It was really good.

I have been called murderess and opportunist, savior and victim. And along the way, become far more than was ever expected of me, even if loneliness was always present, like a faithful hound at my heels. The truth is, not one of us is innocent. We all have sins to confess."

This was an easy to read (and get lost in), informative novel about Catherine de Medici. While I feel like I now know more about her than I did going in, I also want to read more books about her
Feb 24, 2016 rated it liked it
I had a hard time connecting with Catherine. I couldn't hear her voice in my head. Well what I did hear was rather hollow, had little passion. It was just ho hum. I expected more. So much was happening at this time. Elizabeth Tudor was queen of England, there was huge unrest in France. And she met Nostradamus. I expected a grander story, more intrigue and complication. I found it hard to have real sympathy for Catherine. I was surprised at her open mindedness about religion and that she had a lo ...more
Yin Chien 인첸
Jan 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 03, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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
Mar 06, 2010 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
A wonderful combination of historical fact and fiction. The story is a well written and refreshing look into the life of the woman named the Serpent Queen, the woman who poisoned her enemies, associated with witchcraft, and used her royal children as pawns on her chessboard, setting her country on a path of bloody religious war. C.W. Gortner, however, has never been one to accept historical stereotypes, and this novel proves to be no exception to his quest to reveal the human side of history’s m ...more
Mar 15, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
May 15, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Women are weak.
Women can't rule.
After reading a biography like this, it is impossible to believe these stereotypes again.

Catherine de Medici is a very extraordinary historical figure.
From an early age, she had to face many challenges and never seemed to have a happy childhood. But she went on, left home and married. Sadly, the marriage brought just pain; Catherine suffered from miscarriages, unloving, disallowance, becoming the Queen - from wars, loved ones' deaths. Over the years she was humil
Amy Bruno
Jan 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Stephanie Dray
Aug 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A really good read, I enjoyed this one and it made Catherine appear human as opposed to evil personified that she is often portrayed as. Well written and nicely researched, I'm looking forward to more books by this author.
Heather C
“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
Mar 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Confissões de Catarina de Médicis foi uma surpresa deveras agradável, em todos os aspetos. Foi a primeira vez que tive oportunidade de ler algo de Gortner que até então me era totalmente desconhecido. Tenho a dizer que fiquei fã, que Gortner passou a figurar entre os meus escritores de romances históricos favoritos, entre os quais se encontram Philippa Gregory e Isabel Stilwell, por exemplo.

Ao longo destas 400 páginas pude conhecer Catarina desde a sua juventude até ao momento da sua morte. Esta

Rio (Lynne)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sally Howes
Truth may be stranger than fiction, but truth spiced with fiction in this way is the perfect blend. Fast-paced, full of intrigue, passion and intricacy, this book is most certainly comparable to the best of Alison Weir's and even Philippa Gregory's court dramas. Most highly recommended - 4.5★s.
All I could think of while reading this book was thank goodness for the French Revolution that dismantled these corrupt royal families.
May 14, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Il libro si legge bene, ma a tratti sembra proprio di leggere Grand Hotel! Manca di spessore, il modo di scrivere mi e' sembrato alquanto banale, mi aspettavo di piu' e sono rimasta alquanto delusa.
Mercedes Rochelle
Sep 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
Catherine de Medici is one of those historical characters whose reputation is so tarnished that it's hard to imagine any redemption for her. At the same time, what exactly was her role as queen mother? C.W. Gortner chose an interesting title for this book, because we pick it up knowing that she is getting a chance to explain her side of the story. As such, we know it's going to be biased in her favor, and the author's challenge is to make her excuses believable while not going too far in the oth ...more
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
Stephanie Thornton
Catherine de Medici is a much maligned figure in history, but C.W. Gortner breathes life into her in this novel, making her undeniably human. Spanning the morass of France's religious wars between Catholics and Huguenots, it becomes crystal clear that this was a difficult era for any ruling monarch and terrible decisions made by Catherine and others cost thousands of innocent lives. Compound that with Catherine's many personal losses and a veritable family feud (the poor woman's life story might ...more
Oct 03, 2012 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.
Mar 21, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
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
Encruzilhadas Literárias
Catarina de Médicis é uma personalidade histórica que sempre me despertou curiosidade. Primeiro, pelo nome e impacto tão conhecido que a sua herança familiar causou um pouco por toda a Europa. Depois, pela diversas personificações em séries e filmes, que certamente lhe atribuiram uma humanização negada nos preâmbulos da História, mas ainda assim nem sempre muito verídica ou com verosimilhança suficiente para ser encarado como um quadro real e um desfecho digno para esta rainha francesa de origem ...more
Jenny Q
Apr 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: blog-tour
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
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 1 Feb 05, 2015 09:06AM  
  • 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
  • The Sister Queens
  • Courtesan
  • Poison (The Poisoner Mysteries, #1)
  • Lady of the English
  • The King's Mistress
  • To Serve a King
  • Daughters of Rome (The Empress of Rome, #2)
  • To Be Queen: A Novel of the Early Life of Eleanor of Aquitaine
  • Queen By Right
  • Mistress of the Revolution
  • Mistress of the Sun
  • Pale Rose of England
  • Royal Harlot
  • Three Maids for a Crown
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.
“The truth is, not one of is innocent. We all have sins to confess.” 38 likes
“Love is a treacherous emotion. You will fare better without it. We Medici always have.” 19 likes
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