Welcome to the world premier of the Médicis Daughter book trailer. I’d love to hear what you think . . . does it capture the essence of the novel?
An Interview with Catherine de Medicis: Spending Time as one of the 16th Century's Most Powerful Queens
Part of being a writer is slipping into other skins.
While the point-of-view character for my most recent novel, Médicis Daughter, is the youngest Valois Princess, Marguerite, her mother Catherine de Médicis plays a vital role in the story (often as Margot’s antagonist). That meant getting in Queen Catherine’s head and trying to understand her psyche.
Recently I was invited to go back to that sometimes dark but always interesting place, and be Catherine in a character interview for Erin of Flashlight Commentary. As we wandered through the gardens of one of Catherine’s favorite properties, Château de Montceaux, Erin asked some very thought provoking questions. I hope everyone enjoys my answers on behalf of this powerful, crafty Queen.
Of course for more of Catherine and the entire dysfunctional Valois clan, you only need to pick up Médicis Daughter.
Season 3 of the CW’s Reign is a wrap, and fans are in mourning—and not just over the death of . . . no wait, no spoilers in case some of you have DVRed the Season Finale but not watched it yet. No what’s really got fans crying are the ugly rumors that Summer 2017 is the earliest Reign will return. What will we all do for our 16th century French/Scottish fix in the intervening months?
Never fear, mes amies! An evening with the feisty-yet-tragic Mary Queen of Scots, or the cunning Catherine de Médicis is only a bookstore (or library) visit away.
I’ve combed through my personal shelves and reached out to some book blogger friends to compile this list of TEN BOOKS TO ENTERTAIN AND ENRAPTURE REIGN FANS while the show is on hiatus (and I want you all to remember I scooped Buzzfeed Books on this one). These books will take you to the intrigue-filled French and Scottish courts, and satiate your cravings for things royal:
#1 Médicis Daughter by Sophie Perinot: It is my blog, so I get to lead with my book but that’s not naughty because the critics agree the book is oh so nice—
“Brilliant. This is what I call a ‘WOW’ book.” “I have re-read this book not once but TWICE, it’s that good!!!”~Book Lovers’ Paradise
This novel of Valois family dysfunction, political treachery, forbidden love and bloodiest massacre in French history has been called, “A riveting page-turner skillfully blending illicit liaisons and political chicanery.” (~Kirkus Reviews). It was selected as one of Goodreads “Best Books of the Month: December 2015” (the month it released), and also as a B&NReads, December’s Top Pick in Fiction.
More importantly for Reign fans, Amazon reviews suggest Médicis Daughter “would be a great gift for any … fan of the show Reign.”
Médicis Daughter takes readers into the post-Francis Valois landscape (which is precisely where Season 3 left us hanging). With King Charles IX on the throne and Catherine de Médicis pulling the strings and plotting the plots (some things never change), you KNOW there will be plenty of dark and dirty. Viewed through the eyes of the youngest Valois Princess, Marguerite, the court comes alive. As Erin at Flashlight Commentary (see her book recommendation at #7 below) says: “Atmospherically, the novel swept me off my feet. Perinot’s depiction of the French court was beautifully drawn and I was wholly captivated by both the political and social interaction that unfolded among its players.” [Erin’s full review is here].
♥Recommended for Reign fans who enjoy the lush, dark side of the Valois court—the poisonings, the sexual decadence, the back-room deals—and also those who rooted for Princess Claude to outmaneuver her domineering mother.♥
#2 The Serpent and the Moon by HRH Princess Michael of Kent: Instead of heading forward, travel backward to the pre-Reign Valois world with this fascinating volume of popular history. This book relates the true story of the battle between Catherine de Médicis and Diane de Poitier for the heart of, and influence over King Henri II of France.
There are so many fascinating-but-at-the-same-time-creepy details here for Reign fans to enjoy. From the moment 14-year-old Catherine arrives as a bride to discover her handsome young husband already in the thrall of a woman who was present at his birth (I told you it was creepy), through the humiliating and disgusting remedies by which she attempted to combat a decade of childlessness, up to Catherine’s vengeful taking of Château Chenonceau from Diane after Henri’s death (and the evidence of the black arts that Diane found when she took possession of the Chateau she was given in exchange) this book will illuminate Catherine to her fans and foes alike.
Need a tempting detail? How about this: Catherine summoned an Italian carpenter to the Place of Saint-Germain where her bedroom was immediately above that of her husband’s mistress. She had two holes made in the floor of her room and then watched Diane and Henri in bed, sobbing later to friends that “her husband had ‘never used her so well.’”
♥This is a book for Reign fans who miss the old Henri-Catherine-Diane love/power triangle days. And for those who don’t want to read about “what’s next” in Mary’s story for fear of spoiling the plots in Season 4.♥
#3 Courtesan by Diane Haeger: Another excellent choice for Reign fans who want to harken back to the days of Catherine versus Diane, this historical novel was recommended by Esther of Drink Read Love (want to get savvy reviews coupled with wine pairings? This is a blog for you). Esther calls Courtesan a “tapestry” weaving “the story of the passionate—if somewhat scandalous—romance between Diane de Poitiers and King Henri II of France” while managing to portray “the complexities of the situations which she [Diane], Catherine de Medici, and Prince-turned-King Henri find themselves pushed into.” You can read Esther’s full review of Courtesan—which begins with Henri III’s father Francis I still on the throne—here.
♥Recommended for fans of Reign wanting to go back a generation and see Henri, Catherine and Diane when they were as young (and crazy in love) as Frary were when Reign started.♥
#4 The Raven’s Heart, by Jesse Blackadder: This recommendation is courtesy of Erin at Oh, For the Hook of a Book (awesome book blog with well-considered reviews and lots of special features) who says of the novel, “It was such a phenomenal read. . . a book that will haunt my soul for a longtime.” And it is seconded by Meg of Bookish Affair (brilliant book blog, follow it if you read historical fiction or historical non-fiction avidly) who “thought the author did a great job of bringing Mary to life.”
Set immediately after the widowed Queen Mary’s returns to Scotland, The Raven’s Heart covers her tumultuous struggle to wrest back control of her throne. While the novel’s main character is actually a young woman sent to Court to befriend the Queen and try to win back her family lands, Erin at Oh, For . . . says the author “painted a . . . personal picture of Mary, Queen of Scots. . . a woman in a man’s world who needed to be extra strong to gain respect . . . .” Erin further felt that Blackadder effectively portrayed the gentle side of Mary, making it easy for readers to see how “she managed to make everyone around her love her” and to inspire loyalty.
♥Loyal fans of Mary on Reign pick this one up.♥
#5 The Confessions of Catherine de Medici by C.W. Gortner: This book includes “the most dramatic events of Catherine’s adult life including the 1572 Bartholomew’s Day massacre of Protestant Huguenots, vividly and chillingly depicted” (~Historical Novel.info). My book-blogger friend Meg at A Bookish Affair notes that, “Gortner is able to humanize the Queen as a person who had seen a lot of trauma in her life” and concludes that Confessions is “perfect for any history lover who wants to see Catherine de Medici in a new light.” Publishers Weekly called Gortner’s novel, “”A remarkably thoughtful interpretation of an unapologetically ruthless queen,” and I must say I quite agree.
You can read Meg’s full review here.
♥Unapologetic Catherine admirers, this book is for you!♥
#6 Blood Between Queens by Barbara Kyle (part of her Thornleigh Saga): Do you enjoy a thriller element with your history? Have you been engrossed by the Mary vs. Elizabeth of England plotline in Reign? Then try this book. My friend Nancy Bilyeau (whose own series about Tudor-era England—beginning with The Crown–I adore) called Kyle’s book, “a fast-paced and exciting historical novel that plunges readers into the deadly rivalry of Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots just as the beautiful three-time-married monarch had fled Scotland for her cousin’s kingdom.” If Nancy says it “captures the high-stakes politics of the Tudor court, depicting its most famous personages with both accuracy and imagination,” I guarantee you it does.
♥Recommended for Reign fans who can’t get enough of the Mary vs. Elizabeth battle.♥
#7 A Time For The Death Of A King by Ann Dukthas: Another book-blogger recommendation, this one special for this occasion from Erin of Flashlight Commentary, whose blog I read regularly for her articulate reviews. Dukhas’ YA novel is “one of those books I [Erin] intend to give my kids” (that’s a compelling recommendation). A true mystery investigation that sets out to settle the question of whether Mary Queen of Scots was a murderess, complicit in the death of her second husband, Lord Darnley, “readers will not be disappointed by the swift and lean narrative and the solutions to the historical puzzle Dukthas draws.” [Booklist] Erin loved the time-traveling detective at the center of this mystery, Nicholas Segalla, and“admire[d] how the author’s manipulation of the material deepened the mystery surrounding Darnley’s death while introducing young readers to the powerful legacy of Mary, Queen of Scots.”
♥This book is for the mystery readers among Reign fans, and for those who are ready for the next, Scottish, chapter of Mary’s life.♥
#8 Mary Queen of Scotland and The Isles by Margaret George: I love me some Margaret George (in fact, I am eagerly awaiting her next novel due in 2017)! And I am not alone. Margaret is an iconic figure in historical fiction circles (deservedly so), and more than two decades ago she wove this marvelous fictionalized account of Mary Queen of Scots life basically from womb to tomb. Meg of A Bookish Affair calls George’s novel, “an epic story with thrilling detail!” Kirkus Reviews had this to say of the book, “George has created a lively, gallant Mary of intelligence, charm, and terrible judgment . . . . a readable, inordinately moving tribute to a remarkable queen.” Sounds like OUR Mary, doesn’t it Reign-royals?!
#9 The Little Book of Mary Queen of Scots by Mickey Mayhew: This petite (less than 200 pages) volume of popular history is comprised largely of contemporary anecdotes about Mary, and excerpts from letters and rare primary sources. But does discuss our culture’s fascination with the Scottish Queen, including Reign. Historical novelist Philippa Gregory called it, “A bright and breezy account of the complex life of Mary Stuart.”
♥This book is for those who want a non-fiction look at Mary’s life and who don’t have the time to invest in a long read.♥
#10 The Wild Queen: The Days and Nights of Mary, Queen of Scots by Carolyn Meyer (from the Young Royals series). I am closing out my list with this YA novel that comes to me TWICE recommended—first by a big-time Reign fan of my acquaintance (she’s also a history devotee who is always stumping her fellow fans with her “royal pop quizzes”) and second by Erin at Flashlight Commentary. Currently the Amazon #10 Best Seller in Teen & Young Adult Renaissance Historical fiction, this novel follows the recently widowed Mary home to Scotland where she hopes that a new husband will not only help her to secure not only her own throne but allow her to take the crown of England from her cousin, Elizabeth. Too bad, as the back cover reveals, “the love and security she longs for elude her . . . [and she] finds herself embroiled in a murder scandal that could cost her the crown.” Or rather too bad for Mary but NOT for Reign fans because if that doesn’t sound like an episode of the show I don’t know what does!
♥Recommended for Reign watchers wanting “what happens next” for Mary on Scottish soil right now—not in summer of 2017♥
Well that’s it Reign fans and reader-friends . . . ten different ways to get your fix while waiting for the CW to run the next episode. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the recommendations, and to learning which are your favorites. And in the meantime remember, the Valois are just plain sexier than the Tudors 😉
It’s been a great week in reviews for MÉDICIS DAUGHTER!!!
First it made the Goodreads Best Books of the Month: December 2015 and I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. Then the love just kept on coming. You might even say Christmas came early for me:
a top ten for 2015, and I have no doubt I’ll be haunted by this one for a long while. ~Unabridged Chick
. . . this is a tale of overcoming obstacles and fighting for your place in the world. There is plenty of romance, drama, and political intrigue to keep even the most reluctant historical fiction reader entertained. ~Reading Lark
If you love historical fiction, or know someone that does, add this one to you Winter reading list- it’s perfect for curling up by the fire with! ~Bless Their Hearts Mom
I couldn’t put down. And when I wasn’t reading it, I was thinking about it. ~The Readers Hollow
Soaring, fascinating… this book has it all. ~Long and Short Reviews
It’s about time! Time to give the Tudors some competition. Time to show that the history of sixteenth century France is just as, if not more, gripping than that of Henry’s and Elizabeth’s England. In MÉDICIS DAUGHTER (St. Martin’s Press), Sophie Perinot rises to the challenge, offering a glimpse into the spectacular, turbulent years of the waning Valois dynasty. ~Writing the Renaissance
Rich with intrigue, rivalry and passion, Médicis Daughter is not to be missed. ~Flashlight Commentary
So, if you know someone who loves historical fiction, is sucked into dysfunctional family drama, or is fascinated by royal intrigue, Médicis Daughter might just make the perfect holiday gift!
It’s launch day my friends! After many months of research and writing and more months still in the production process, Médicis Daughter steps out on stage. If you haven’t already pre-ordered your copy (and if you have, thanks and please take a picture of your copy “in the wild” and share it with me on social media), you can now find it wherever books are sold. For easy, on-line, purchase links just click over to the Médicis Daughter page of this website.
I look forward to hearing what readers think of my Valois heroine and her family.
Wow. Pleased (and a tad astounded) to announce that Médicis Daughter made Barnes & Noble Read’s “December’s Top Picks in Fiction” list! Seeing myself listed in the company of household names like Dean Koontz and Marina Fiorato (the best-selling author of The Glassblower of Murano) is extremely gratifying. Feels a little bit like Christmas has come early
“Thank you to Sophie Perinot for introducing me to a whole new section of historical fiction to now become obsessed with (move over Tudors)!”
Yes I am SUPER thankful for readers, and particularly readers who take the time to review. Because here’s the thing: word of mouth is still the most powerful tool in the world when it comes to supporting novels.
So Thanks A Literary Vacation for this doozy of a review! For embracing the characters I lived with for so many long months and letting them become as real to you as they are to me:
I think one of my favorite thing about Margot (and really all of these characters) is that she isn’t perfect, not even close. Sophie Perinot did an astounding job of making each character so well rounded and complex that they felt wholly real to me, not just glitzed up or vilified representations of what someone might want them to be.
And for understanding and perfectly expressing the essence of Médicis Daughter:
With all this going on (and there is a lot of action and intrigue to delight in, perfectly presented by the author) the real heart of the story, to me, is much smaller: that of a beautiful, intelligent girl long held prisoner to her family’s demands, threats and machinations finally learning how to break free, at least in part, from their control to become the woman of honor she longs to be.
I couldn’t have said it better myself!
Brilliant. This is what I call a “WOW” book.
…doesn’t read like a history book, but like a fantastic tale.
This week it was a review-a-day for Médicis Daughter, and all of them good!
Peeking Between the Pages highly recommended the novel, declaring:
Well researched and rich in historical detail Medicis Daughter is sure to please any historical fiction fan and it’s one of my favorites of the year.
Over at The Mad Reviewer (where Médicis Daughter earned 5 of 5 stars), Carrie said:
Perinot’s descriptive writing style … brings the court and the characters to life. She can be beautifully descriptive but also knows when to pare down her writing for the sake of pacing.
A theme picked up by Just One More Chapter:
Sophie Perinot writes with rich details, her descriptions made it so easy to visualize what was taking place – I was totally absorbed in her story.
There is a real sense of Marguerite’s growth as the novel progresses, fueled by the machinations and ill-treatment by her family, naivety fast becomes awareness and intelligence and a strong moral compass hold her in good stead challenging her family in doing what she believes is right. (Teddy)
. . .we see a coming of age story from a young, innocent girl into a woman of the Valois court who makes decisions for herself, goes toe-to-toe with her powerful mother, and ultimately who becomes a strong woman (Heather)
Well thank you ladies all! I am blushing! For those of you who are not sick of me saying it already, Médicis Daughter: A Novel of Marguerite de Valois releases in 11 days. It is currently available for pre-order at Amazon, B&N, Indiebound and (for the international set) Book Depository (though it appears they will be shipping out later). If you order today then you will have it in your hands more quickly!
Light is a frequent literary device. It can be an emblem of hope, a way to see what has been hidden, even a method of symbolically driving back demons. This month a collection of historical novelists, including myself, have decided to use light in all those ways, by creating a weekly blog event (#LightOnOurLadies) to illuminate the historical women at the center of our writings. The main character in my next novel, Médicis Daughter, is profoundly in need of such illumination.
History has not been kind to 16th century French Princess Marguerite de Valois. In fact, she has been quite viciously misremembered as a wanton and a woman without substance. Before I explain how I think that happened, please allow me to shine a little light on the real Marguerite.
Born at the Château of Saint-Germain overlooking the Seine, as her father had been before her, Marguerite (or Margot as she was affectionately called) was the eighth child of King Henri II of France and Queen Catherine de Médicis. Described by the poet Ronsard as tall and graceful, with fine pale skin, sparkling black eyes, and chestnut hair, Margot stood out even at a Court renowned for its beauties. But she had more than looks going for her—far more. A true granddaughter of François I, Margot was highly intelligent. She loved books, and often got so swept away by them that she forgot to eat or sleep (sound familiar to anyone reading this?). As a mature woman, Margot was a serious and influential force in the literary life of France. A student of more than literature, Margot was a solid classics scholar. She spoke multiple languages fluently, and also had a genuine talent for public speaking. This she was frequently asked to do, often representing one royal brother or another. Finally Margot had a keen grasp of the fine points of statecraft. Arguably her political acumen exceeded that of her brothers, making her the most similar of all her siblings to her strong-willed, politically expert mother, Catherine de Médicis.
Why then, if Margot was as competent as she was pretty is she so little remembered? And when recalled, why is Margot depicted not as she was, but as lascivious and nearly amoral?
To put it simply, Marguerite de Valois was a victim of poor timing. She was born at the end of her dynasty.
When a royal house expires, its last years are generally recounted by people who have political and personal agendas that make it tempting to denigrate their predecessors. Such was the fate of Valois in the late 16th Century. Slander and denigration of royal family began during their lifetimes, largely fed by the tensions and rivalries of a vicious series of wars (the French Wars of Religion) that stretched from the early 1560s beyond the end of the Valois reign. No member of the Valois was exempt from the attacks of gossips, or from the writings of anonymous political pamphleteers. Anti-Valois propagandists seeking to degrade Marguerite chose that easiest and most ancient path for destroying a woman: assertions of rabid sexual desire and wanton conduct.
Slanderous talk about Margot began early among her family’s enemies, but she owes most of the lasting defamation of her character to a single printed work, Le divorce Satyrique. This malicious pamphlet was composed in her lifetime. It mocked and insulted Margot as it set out grounds for a proposed annulment of her marriage to Henri de Bourbon. Margot’s cousin/husband was no longer merely King of the Navarre, but King Henri IV of France—and a king in need of an heir. We all know that a King in need of an heir will do what it takes to be rid of a queen who cannot give him one. So, grounds for an annulment were created and printed. That such a piece of propaganda should have been taken up as fact and treated as history for so long may seem astounding to us today, but early chroniclers of the French court were often not particularly concerned with objectivity. Nor were early historians. As Robert Ja Sealy remarks in The Myth of the Reine Margot, “the documentary sources for our knowledge. . . were written during the wars of religion and, all too frequently are colored by political expediency . . .” Objectivity as a goal rather than a veneer is a rather recent requirement for history and historians. Even some of the histories written in the 19th and early 20th centuries make no pretense at objectivity in recounting the period of the Wars of Religion. Rather, their authors unabashedly announce in their prefaces which side they are on. Margot, considered not a particularly important historical player, remained largely unexamined. The myths about her grew and thrived in darkness.
In Médicis Daughter I’ve focused a strong and clear light on the historical Marguerite, creating a coming-of-age story that does her better justice than she received from Valois disparagers, or from those later historians who saw no reason to look more closely. Médicis Daughter releases six weeks from today. To learn more about the book, visit the novel’s page at Amazon, or on Facebook.
As part of the Shining Light on Our Ladies Tour, please meet my fellow authors Helen Hollick and Alison Morton… and their ladies
Raised by a feminist mother and an ex-military father, it never occurred to Alison Morton that women couldn’t serve their country in the armed forces. After six years, she left as a captain, having done all sorts of interesting and exciting things she can’t talk about, even now…
Fascinated by the complex, power and value-driven Roman civilisation since childhood, she wondered what a modern Roman society would be like if run by strong women…
Alison lives in France and writes award-winning Roman-themed alternate history thrillers with tough Praetorian heroines – INCEPTIO, PERFIDITAS, SUCCESSIO and now
… AURELIA: Late in 1960s, Aurelia is sent to Berlin to investigate silver smuggling, former Praetorian Aurelia Mitela barely escapes a near-lethal trap. Her old enemy is at the heart of all her troubles and she pursues him back home to Roma Nova but he has struck at her most vulnerable point her young daughter. Please visit Alison (and Aurelia) to read more – and a chance to win a paperback copy of Aurelia
She lives on a thirteen-acre farm in Devon, England. Born in London, Helen wrote pony stories as a teenager, moved to science-fiction and fantasy, and then discovered historical fiction. Published for over twenty years with her Arthurian Trilogy, and the 1066 era, she became a ‘USA Today’ bestseller with Forever Queen. She also writes the Sea Witch Voyages, pirate-based fantasy adventures. As a supporter of Indie Authors she is Managing Editor for the Historical Novel Society Indie Reviews, and inaugurated the HNS Indie Award.
On her blog today Helen introduces some ladies from the Court of King Arthur, except this ‘court’ is set in 5th century Britain and her Gwenhwyfar, Morgause and Morgaine are very different from the ladies of the Medieval tales!
ENJOYING THE SHINING LIGHT ON OUR LADIES TOUR? Then please join us again NEXT TUESDAY when we set sail with Captain Jesamiah Acorne’s ladies aboard Sea Witch, meet a lady surgeon disguised as a man aboard another ship, and are introduced to lady blackmailed into marrying a knight….