Title: Medici's Daughter: A Novel of Marguerite de Valois
Author: Sophie Perinot
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.
Historical fiction has always been one of my favorite genres, even when I was a tiny little grade-schooler back in the day, scheming to do my homework as quickly as possible so I could read my books. And this hasn't changed a bit, even though now I'm twenty-four. I've always loved the idea of learning about a historical period through the eyes of someone who lived it--even those that often have a fictional angle to them.
I heard about Medici's Daughter, and on top of part of the focus of the novel being on one of the greatest queens of that time, Catherine de Medici, otherwise known as 'La Serpente' to her enemies, which were many. There was also the added bonus of the book taking place in sixteenth-century France, and the narrator is Marguerite de Valois, a beautiful princess who wants nothing more than to please her family. It all sounds like a real-life fairy tale, right? Wrong. I didn't know very much about this particular period in history, but I will be doing more research as soon as possible, thanks to Perinot.
Simply put, this is one of the best historical fiction novels--or maybe just one of the best novels--I've read all year. I loved it. All historical fiction should be this good. Honestly, what really gets me when it comes to this kind of novel is that it is compelling, but still well-researched and rooted in fact. Perinot does that several times over, and it was so exciting and refreshing.
And then there were the characters themselves: the frightening, nail-biting political intrigue that was rife throughout the novel, with poor, innocent Margot at the very center of it. I loved the character development, but none shone so bright as Margot's: She transforms from an innocent child and pawn for her family's social climing and scheming, to a woman who claims the power of her birthright, all amidst frightening religious war and personal strife as well. She is the shining star of this book, though her mother and brothers were also equally complex (and often morally ambiguous) characters, and I found myself periodically screaming, crying, or just in shock.
This novel has literally something for everyone: meticulous research, political intrigue, complex characters rooted in real history, a strong heroine who fights to slay her own dragons, real and imagined, and a satisfying conclusion. The bottom line: A novel rooted in history, Medici's Daughter is a delectable treat of a novel that has something for everyone--one of my favorite books of all time! Next on deck: Wild: Lost and Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed!