If you have ever wondered what life was like in Renaissance France, then check out the historical novel Medicis Daughter by Sophie Perinot. This novel takes you into the life of the royal family of France – that is, Catherine de Medicis, otherwise known as “the black queen” by many historians, and her children, with her son, Charles, King of France. The novel begins two years after the onset of the Wars of Religion, a time in European history in which Catholics in France were at war with Protestants (Huguenots). It’s one of your typical episodes of suppressing a religion; history is rife with such times, as in some countries then and now, it was illegal to be of a different religion and this period of French history was no different. The Catholics saw the Protestants as “heretics” and wanted them all out of France. The royal family especially wanted all of France to be Catholic. The French characters in this novel show as much fervor. Also in this novel is the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre, a real event which the Medici family was responsible for.
At the heart of this story is Marguerite, the daughter of the queen and princess of the House of Valois. Unlike her sisters, Margo is more politically-minded and makes every effort to stay attuned to current events. She even has a hiding place to listen in on secret meetings. She ic clever, independent, brave and quick-thinking. Her only fault in this story is allowing herself to be blinded by love; she ends up falling in love with the Count de Guise and it only leads to her undoing. I admired her for staying true to her faith and always trying to stay one step ahead of her evil, cunning mother (who I attributed to Disney’s Evil queen). Margo was very fooling in allowing herself to be strung along by the Duc’s many professions of love for her. I wanted to scream at her, “He doesn’t love you, he is only manipulating you!” But alas, people can be so blinded by love, and that’s what Margeurite is. Even after she marries, she still loves someone she knows she can never have. Very, very foolish. It was the one part of the story that I didn’t like.
Another thing that I didn’t like was that there were too many Henries in this story. It was hard to keep track of which Henri is being spoken to. I realize it's an historical thing, as well as a royalty thing, but it was still a problem. Even one of the Henries comments, "With so many Henries it is easy to become confused." Indeed.
Despite Margot's unhappiness over the man she is forced to marry, at least they share her hatred of her older brothers and her distrust of her mother. This should be something she should nurture and appreciate but she fails to understand its usefulness. Yet her quote to her husband has some worth: "The more my family can determine what hurts you, the more accurate their blows become." This can be true of any family even today.
Medicis Daughter was an entertaining and thought-provoking historical novel that was hard to put down. I really enjoyed reading this novel. I am grateful to the author of constructing a story of a historical person we would not yet otherwise know about as well as highlighting events in history that are worth taking note of and being reminded about. In some way, this novel brings justice to the life of Marguerite and gives us a very personal, very hands-on view of what life may have been like during that time. For anyone interested in French history, the French Renaissance or for any historical novel in general, Medicis Daughter is certainly a book that I would recommend.
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.
Médicis Daughter is historical fiction at its finest, weaving a unique coming-of-age story and a forbidden love with one of the most dramatic and violent events in French history.