Jeanne Kalogridis, author of The Borgia Bride and I, Mona Lisa, has again taken a famous historical woman and breathed life into her. This time it is Catherine de Medici of the powerhouse D’Medici family of Florence, Italy. Her story spans generations, and takes us from her earliest memories to elderly widowhood.
Catherine de Medici was Duchess of Urbino, heir to the rule of Florence. When her family fell from power, she was imprisoned as a child and held for three years by Republican factions. Catherine was valuable as niece to the Pope, and was married off to the young French prince. She became queen and eventually gave birth to kings.
Meanwhile, though, her dreams are disturbed by visions of tides of blood and those whom she loves calling for help. She does not know what to do, so calls on astrology to guide her, as she had done when she was young. Historically, she was well known for her reliance and knowledge of the “black arts”—astrology and talismans. Among many highlights, The Devil's Queen portrays a meeting with the famed prophet Nostradamus.
Catherine is regarded as one of the most gifted rulers in France’s history, even though she never officially ruled as Queen, but as regent for her young sons. Her story is one of passion, intrigue and history by inches. And Kalogridis tells it with gripping detail, from the passionate love scenes to the gory executions. We come to know Catherine and journey with her through the twists and turns of royal life.
The narrative pulls readers along as quickly as the years go by—Kalogridis is skillful at weaving complicated political treachery into the personal story of a deeply committed mother. Rounded out with epic battles, affairs and glorious descriptions of royal fashions, this transporting tale may keep readers up late into the night.
Linda White is a writer and publicist living in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Page through the "Grimoire" of Catherine de Medici, a companion work to The Devil's Queen.