Title: Médicis Daughter
Author: Sophie Perinot
Series: No Series – Stand Alone
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Published: December 1st, 2015
Rating: ★★★★★ (5 out of 5)
The summary of Médicis Daughter from Goodreads:
It’s the winter of 1564 and the beautiful young Princess Margot is summoned to her mother’s household, where her true education begins in earnest. Known across Europe as Madame la Serpente, Queen Catherine is an intimidating and unmoving presence in France, even as her country recovers from the first of many devastating religious wars. Among the crafty nobility of Queen Catherine’s royal court, Margot learns the intriguing and unspoken rules she must live by to please her manipulative family.
Eager to be an obedient daughter, Margot embraces her role as a pawn to be married off to the most convenient bidder. Despite her loyalty, Margot finds herself charmed by the powerful and charismatic Duc de Guise and falls for him even as she is promised to another. Finally setting aside her happiness for duty, Margot leaves the man she loves for Henri of Navarre, a Huguenot leader and a notorious heretic. Yet Queen Catherine’s schemes are endless, and Margot’s brother plots vengeance in the streets of Paris. Forced to choose between her family and what’s right, Margot at last finds the strength within herself to forge her own destiny.
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.
I remember reading about this family, and the circumstances in the novel, when I was a junior in high school. Once again, a central figure is from the de Medici family. The St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre is a dark period in French history, but I had never thought about the events from the perspective of Margot, the bride whose marriage brought everyone to Paris. I loved this book for its perspectives on Margot, her family, and the events surrounding her life.
Margot is another woman who seemingly has no power in a world ruled by men. She knows she will be married for a political alliance, despite having her heart belong to someone else. She knows she will never be the one making all the decisions and that she will, instead, be faced with the consequences of other’s decisions. Yet she finds a way to wield power over those around her through influence and devotion.
Unfortunately, her mother does have power. She may not be the ruler of France, but she controls her son, who is the King of France. Through that alliance, she controls Margot’s fate. Margot must bend to the wishes of her brother and her mother, even though they do not take into account anything she wants or needs.
I think the best part of this novel is how Margot is portrayed in the face of the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre. It’s the best example of her doing something against her family because she wants to and understands that it’s the right thing to do. She fully came into her power in that moment and it was absolutely wonderful to read.
I think I respected her even more in that moment because she risked her life for someone she didn’t really like and someone she didn’t agree with on religious matters. She honored a promise she had made to his mother and to him to be an ally, even a partner to, even though she couldn’t consider herself a wife to him.
There really wasn’t anything bad or missing from the novel. It wasn’t the best historical fiction novel I’ve ever read, but it was certainly well-written, well researched and a wonderful read.
This is a fantastic historical fiction novel. It uncovers the layers of Margot slowly until the moment when everything we’ve learned about her is put on display. She finds her own power and stands up to her family for the first time when she can no longer stand by their deadly choices and actions. I loved it.
Thank you to NetGalley and Thomas Dunne Books for an advanced copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.