Wow. Pleased (and a tad astounded) to announce that Médicis Daughter made Barnes & Noble Read’s BookTree1-550x550“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)!”

Thank YOU Colleen at A Literary Vacation, and readers everywhere.  Without a receptive audience what we writers do would be a little like a tree falling in the forest with no one to hear it. THANKSGIVING WISHES

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!

Share/Save
Nov 242015
Brilliant. This is what I call a “WOW” book.
What better way to celebrate the madness of “one week to publication” than with a WOW review?! 1 week to go
 
Book Lovers’ Paradise declares that Médicis Daughter:
…doesn’t read like a history book, but like a fantastic tale.
And Donna has officially read the book more times than my mother. Thanks Donna! — “I have re-read this book not once but TWICE, it’s that good!!!”
 

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.

 

And now,

As part of the Shining Light on Our Ladies Tour,  please meet my fellow authors Helen Hollick and Alison Morton… and their ladies

 Alison Morton is a woman after my own heart.

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

Helen Hollick is a fierce advocate for Indie Authors.

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….

 

 

Yesterday was Marguerite de Valois’ birthday.

Born in 1553 the protagonist of Médicis Daughter, as you will discover in my novel, was much more than history gives her credit for.   I always think of her on her birthday and wonder “what if” (what if Salic law hadn’t prevented her from ruling in France when her last brother–Henri III–died? What if she’d be able to give her husband Henri IV a son?).  I hope that in my novel I have given her a gift: a story that is worthy of her and undermines the pernicious rumors—started by political pamphleteers in her own time—that she was a wanton, a hedonist and not much more.  So maybe my book is a birthday gift, belated but nonetheless . . .

Well yesterday I got a present: A box, perched atop my mailbox, containing the bound galleys of Médicis Daughter.  They weren’t expected.  They could have come any day.  But they arrived on Marguerite’s birthday.  A sign? I sure hope so!

Voila mes amis! I am very pleased and proud to introduce you to the visually stunning cover for my next novel, Médicis Daughter: A Novel of Marguerite de Valois.  Yes, that is Marguerite in the forground and the goreous, iconic Chateau de Chenonceau in the background (a palace that is one of the settings from the book).  What’s my favorite thing about it if I can’t say everything?  The small, sinister, dark bird Margot is looking at in the sky.  Psst, readers, keep an eye out for black birds as a recurring theme in the novel.

For those of you who are super eager, as of today you can pre-order Médicis Daughter on Amazon.

I am very pleased to share this exciting news about “what’s next” in my writing career:

SMP Nabs Perinot’s Next Historical

Sophie Perinot sold world English rights to her historical novel Medicis Daughter to St. Martin’s Press editor Toni Kirkpatrick. Agent Jacques de Spoelberch represented the author. The book is set in 16th-century France and follows a beautiful princess who, de Spoelberch explained, “walks the knife edge between the demands of her serpentine mother, Catherine de Medicis, and those of her conscience.” Medicis Daughter is set for a late 2015 release.

(Publishers Weekly, Book Deals: Week of September 1)

That’s right my latest–a novel of a Marguerite de Valois, daughter of a king, sister to three kings and wife to the eventual Henri IV of France–will be released by Thomas Dunne in hardcover. Watch this space for updates and a future cover reveal.

 

But not forever!  For a short time the Kindle version of The Sister Queens is bargain priced at $3.99. Now is the time to add the novel to your e-book library or recommend it to an e-book loving friend.

While I was baking up a storm and wrapping gifts for friends and family I received a couple of very special year-end presents.  The Sister Queens made several  “best of” lists” (in addition to the list at Let Them Read Books  mentioned in a previous post).

I am exceedingly flattered that The True Book Addict, has my debut keeping company with books by the likes of C.W. Gortner, Hilary Mantel and my good friend Nancy Bilyeau. Holly’s list at Bippity Boppity Book lets me rub elbows with Ken Follett and Diana Gabaldon (wow).  Book Drunkard’s “Top 12”  and Tanzinite’s Castle Full of Books  both also have me in very august company.   I am  thrilled that Kate Quinn, author of a brilliant trilogy set in ancient Rome that I personally devoured, also picked The Sister Queens as one of her 2012 favorites and Space Station Mir named me as one of her “Top Ten New-To-Me Authors for 2012.”  Finally, I feel very privileged that The Sister Queens made two of the “personal favorites” 2012 lists at Romantic Historical Lovers—Meagan’s and Jenny’s. 

Not so sound like The Count from Sesame Street, but by my reckoning that makes nine favorites lists  I am gobsmacked and grateful. Thank you to the book bloggers who did me such honor and thank you to all the readers who embraced my first novel so warmly!

Books are what I AM dreaming of for Christmas! Shown here from left to right: The Crown by Nancy Bilyeau on Kindle, Empress of the Seven Hills by Kate Quinn, Shine Shine Shine by Lydia Netzer, and The Sister Queens by yours truly.