Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Catherine De Medici : Two Views: Two Books

I have always had a fascination for he Medici and Borgia Families. I never thought that much had been written about them - especially about the Medicis - until recently when I discovered "The Devil's Queen: A Novel of Catherine DeMedici by Jeanne Kalogridis from Amazon and then discovered another fabulous biography (non-fiction) book "Catherine DeMedici: Renaissance Queen Of France " by Leonie Frieda though a group I am in on GoodReads.

By all acounts, Catherine DeMedici was in fact a true Renaissance woman. Her interests led her to study astrology, along with mathematics & philosophy. The rumors have always been rampant that she practices the darker side of magical arts. This book accentuates her relationship with the magician Cosima Ruggieri - her alter ego in a way. A strange and serious relationship (platonic). Catherine lived ina world where young women were brought up reared in convents, then at a marriageable age of 12, these child brides are sent to be raised by their 'husband's family. Girls especially were little more than pawns, some were afforded the luxuries of an education and were married to extend their families poer base and prestige. Catherine was mother-in-law to Mary Queen of Scots and she was the architect of the very bloody massacre on St. Bartholomew's Day. Diane de Poitiers overshadowed Catherine in her marriage to the French King Henri and, although he lived with Diane De Poitiers all of his life, Catherine found herself to have fallen deeply in love with her husband.

I found Ms. Kalogridis' book to be exceedingly well researched & a delight to those of us who thoroughly enjoy a fast paced, well written, largely historically accurate book that depicts the life of this often villified Queen who was, most likely, a very unusual female stateswoman of her time who felt that the end can, generally, justify the means. This is not a flowery romantic book but is a highy readable, thoroughly engrossing read! Well done Ms. Kalogridis!

To balance the fictionalized version I decided that I also need to a non-fictionalized biography. I just began reading this book - found as an excellent , low priced option as a used copy on Amazon.

I can't say much about this book yet other than it is a well written biography that reads as lively and fast paced as a novel does. I often like to read a historical fiction piece about a person and then follow through and go back to read a non-fiction biography. For some reason I find that my memory retains more when hit with this sort of "double dose". In my opinion, these are both excellent books about a fascinating woman who may well have just been well ahead of time.


Judy H in NC said...

wouldn't it have been more fun in school to learn about some of these wonderful woman. much more interesting than the same old stuffy men!

Judy H in NC said...

Hurray! my library has them. they are now on request. I'll fit them in between my college reading.

Bonnie / Graybonnie said...

Thanks for the book info.

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