Welcome to my review of Médicis Daughter by Sophie Perinot. Those who are obsessed with the women behind the machinations of the French court during the reign of Elizabeth I, or have a fascination with the ever-interesting Médici dynasty will find plenty to love in this soon to be released title.
Marguerite de Valois was the daughter of Catherine de Médici and Henry I of France, betrothed to Henry of Navarre, a cousin, and later ascended to the throne as Queen. It was a tumultuous journey, and Perinot takes us through her life, introducing this very unique woman and her story.
As a piece of historical fiction, Perinot’s choices to solidify some events relegated to speculation and use the historical record to firm up her characterizations works beautifully to give a portrait of what ‘may have happened’, and provides a gripping read. Each character that encounters Marguerite, be they good or evil, purely real or imagined, or a clever mix of fact, speculation and fiction build a solid sense of the obstacles and world around her, details build in layers giving readers a chance to build a picture and connect to Marguerite.
Depictions of Catherine and the other members of her family are from Marguerite’s perspective and the constant denial of Marguerite as a viable member of the family, with thoughts, concerns and use beyond her position as yet another pawn in the power game show clearly her own struggles for validation, and the ease with which her family used that desire to further their own ends of the moment. These early influences and lack of considerations clearly filter in to build the woman she became, and while the story ends at the famed St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre, we get a clear picture of the woman who would be queen.
Most notable is her reliance and relationship with the Duc de Guise, as someone who becomes her confidante, her support and appears to be interested in Marguerite, not her position or perceived power within the court is examined, giving readers further insight into the struggles that befell Marguerite. While the story is predominantly focused on the years after joining the court and to her marriage, the author does give an overview of her life after, including clear explanations as to choices made when adding in speculative details to build the story.
A wonderful piece of historic fiction that brings a sense of humanity to the players of the time, and while not purely accurate in historical detail, carries enough of a broad brushstroke to further recognition and interest in more, scholarly or fiction. A good choice for fans of historic fiction who appreciate a character and not romance driven plot.
Title: Médicis Daughter: A Novel of Marguerite de Valois
Author: Sophie Perinot
Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance
Published by: Thomas Dunne Books
Published on: 1 December 2015
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
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Winter, 1564. Beautiful young Princess Margot is summoned to the court of France, where nothing is what it seems and a wrong word can lead to ruin. Known across Europe as Madame la Serpente, Margot’s intimidating mother, Queen Catherine de Médicis, is a powerful force in a country devastated by religious war. Among the crafty nobility of the royal court, Margot learns the intriguing and unspoken rules she must live by to please her poisonous family.
Eager to be an obedient daughter, Margot accepts her role as a marriage pawn, even as she is charmed by the powerful, charismatic Duc de Guise. Though Margot's heart belongs to Guise, her hand will be offered to Henri of Navarre, a Huguenot leader and a notorious heretic looking to seal a tenuous truce. But the promised peace is a mirage: her mother's schemes are endless, and her brothers plot vengeance in the streets of Paris. When Margot's wedding devolves into the bloodshed of the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre, she will be forced to choose between her family and her soul.
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.