The Italian Woman
Touchstone, Jan 1 2013, $16.00
In Florence, her father Pope Clement VII arranges for his fourteen year old daughter Caterina de’ Medici to marry the second son of the King of France, Prince Henry of Orleans; forcing her to leave behind her beloved Ippolito. That political marriage also broke the heart of Jeanne of Navarre who hoped to become Prince Henry’s wife.
Patient but bitter, Caterina accepted the affronts by her husband and others in his circle who bowed to King Henry’s beloved mistress Diane de Poitiers instead of the mother of his children. When Henry died, Queen Regent Caterina watches her ailing oldest son Francis become king. However, she prefers her second son hale Henry to replace his sick older brother on the throne in order to insure her dynasty. Jeanne, married to Antoine de Bourbon, supports the Huguenots as civil war breaks out in France with Caterina manipulating all sides to strengthen her family hold on the throne.
This reprint of the 1950s published middle historical in Jean Plaidy’s Catherine Medici trilogy (see Madame Serpent) is an engaging sixteenth century French intrigue. Although the action feels tame compared to contemporary written historical biographic fiction (see The Confessions of Catherine de Medici by C.W. Gortner), fans will enjoy Ms. Plaidy’s saga as the enjoyable storyline enables fans to understand what motivated the key rivals.