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The Devil's Queen: A Novel of Catherine de Medici Paperback – Bargain Price, May 25, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this soap opera rendition of 16th-century power and politics, the ruthless and manipulative wife of France's King Henry II, reviled for her role in the civil and religious wars that roiled France, is conned into a deal with the devil. After her arranged marriage to the future French king, Catherine de Medici dedicates her life to protecting her husband and his reign, bartering away her soul to ensure that she provides heirs. Seasoned historic novelist Kalogridis (The Borgia Bride) nails the palace intrigue and lush pageantry of the Renaissance, but can't get a grip on her heroine's slippery, troubled heart. Catherine confesses to a core of evil, and history certainly supports that view, but Kalogridis suggests that the real trade-off of Catherine's Faustian bargain was to become a royal doormat, swallowing her courage and pride to become a dutiful and ignored wife and mother. For all her passion and attention to detail, however, Kalogridis doesn't quite bring the powerful, tortured figure back from her historical purgatory. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Catherine de Medici (1519–89) was the wife of one French king and mother to three. Intensely disliked by the French and kept in the background during her husband's reign, she came into her own after the death of her eldest son. The period of her strongest influence was also one of great political and religious unrest in France; she will be forever associated with the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre of French Protestants. Making her hardcover debut with this well-researched and highly readable historical novel, Kalogridis (The Borgia Bride) treats Catherine with far more sympathy than most chronicles. In this portrayal, Catherine is highly superstitious, and her dealings with the astrologer Ruggieri lead her to commit unspeakable acts for the sake of her husband and children. In the end, though, fate cannot be cheated, and Catherine must deal with the consequences of her actions. Good for most collections, especially those where historicals are in demand. There are a couple of graphic sexual scenes, but they are not gratuitous. [With a 125,000-copy first printing; library marketing.]—Pamela O'Sullvian, SUNY at Brockport Lib.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; First Edition edition (May 25, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031262414X
  • ASIN: B0058M5X34
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.4 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (93 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,718,571 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 42 people found the following review helpful By S. McGee TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 21, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Catherine de Medici learned the ugly realities of power politics, Renaissance style, while she was still a child. When her family is deposed from power in Florence, Catherine is first imprisoned in the city's convents, and then is denied the chance to return to govern the city of her birth. Instead, her uncle, Pope Clement, sends her to France as the reluctant bride of an equally-reluctant Henri, duke of Orleans, the second son of the king of France, Francois I. This novel follows her life from her first encounter with the astrologer who helps her understand her destiny and helps her shape it, Cosimo Ruggieri, to their final days as allies at the French court, which Catherine now rules as Regent and mother of the king.

Kalogridis tackles the most controversial aspects of Catherine's character head-on. Catherine is an unusual girl, to say the least; she is far more interested in astrology (along with philosophy and mathematics) than in the more orthodox subject of religion. Ironically, religious conflict comes to dominate her life, as the clashes between France's Catholic majority and the Huguenots become increasingly grave. While Kalogridis does a good job in tackling the complexities of the looming religious wars and the power politics of the era, she devotes a lot more time to exploring Catherine's controversial relationship with Ruggieri. Catherine may love only her husband (who, in turn, has eyes only for his much-older mistress, Diane de Poitiers) but her strongest and longest-lived relationship, in Kalogridis's view, is with Ruggieri. In her cause, he indulges in some pretty nasty stuff -- with Catherine's tacit acquiescence. (No spoilers here, but there's a lot of explicit sorcery aimed at consolidating Catherine's power.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Lazy Day Gardener on August 28, 2009
Format: Audio CD Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Review of the CD: Jeanne Kalogridis' novel of Catherine de Medici, "The Devil's Queen," is skillfully read by Kate Reading in this five disc collection. In Reading's capable hands, the story of Catherine becomes a compelling one. Kalogridis' historical novel, which at times borders on melodramatic, allows the often vilified French queen to tell her own story. And quite a story it is.

Catherine is famous as the wife of one French king and the mother of three others; she is infamous as the architect of the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre of French Protestants. And history has further condemned her close relationship with the astrologer Cosimo Ruggieri.

Was Catherine an evil queen of epic proportions? Kalogridis attempts to purchase a little compassion for Catherine by explaining her tumultuous background and her compelling mission to both protect her husband and to ensure the continuation of his line. Surely she was a strong queen who faced adversity - whether in the form of revolting French Protestants or her husband's much beloved mistress, Diane de Poitiers - with courage and élan.
Did she rule through witchcraft? The French people seemed to think so, and Kalogridis shows her making her deal with the devil.

The novel itself is dramatic and fast paced; Reading's presentation is compelling. But it is not a happy story; not only is Catherine not a sympathetic figure, but also the novel itself can be rather graphic and heavy handed.

Three and a half stars: It will appeal to many listeners but is too melodramatic for serious readers and not romantic/sympathetic enough for those looking for a good historical romance.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Luan Gaines HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 21, 2009
Format: Hardcover
History can be dry and uninspiring, but Kalogridis infuses Catherine de Medici's life from 1527-1572 with the unique characteristics of a Medici and the unfolding events of history, the melding of politics and superstition. Although it is impossible to include all the nuances of these turbulent years, the author focuses on Catherine's life from her imprisonment in Florence to her regency in France and the gruesome St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre of 1572. At eight, Catherine witnesses her dreams demolished, her future in Florence traded in an expert move by her uncle, Pope Clement VII, that delivers her to the French court of Francis I and marriage to Henri, the Duke d' Orleans. Having cut her teeth on political intrigue during her years of incarceration, Catherine is an astute observer of the changing tide of history and the machinations of the powerful. Yielding her future to Clement's designs is the first of many painful betrayals Catherine will face.

Catherine is not of a religious temperament, attracted rather to the study of astrology and the casting of spells. Through a long association with Cosimo Ruggieri, Catherine calls upon the dark arts to control the bloody fate that fills her dreams, hoping to snare the forces of evil in her favor. Arriving at the French court, Catherine is welcomed by her father-in-law, Francis I, and eventually the affections of her own husband, Henri (Henry II). A childless marriage does little to calm her fears, but Kalogridis interprets Catherine as a resourceful character, a Medici whose life is in mortal danger in her own country, the tenuous nature of her claim as Henri's barren wife and her increasing dependence on magic to quell her nightmares. Determined, Catherine seduces Henri from the arms of his mistress, bearing him sons after ten years.
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