I became a fan of Sophie Perinot’s work when I read her first novel The Sister Queens and later her part in the novel A Day of Fire. Her talent at weaving history with a captivating story is what makes her novels so entirely readable. In her newest Medicis Daughter: A Novel of Marguerite de Valois, Perinot whisks us away to the Valois Court and into the life of Marguerite Valois and a very turbulent time in French history.
The story is told to us through Marguerite (Margot) de Valois who we first meet as a young girl who has been summoned to the court of her brother King Charles IX. She quickly learns that it’s not all she thought it would be. As with most royal children Margot is used as a pawn in a struggle for power – power that her mother and the king crave. Her mother, Queen Catherine de Medicis, rules Margot with an iron fist making sure she knows that her only duty in life is to do what she’s told especially in regards to a royal marriage. Margot knows she must do her duty to her family and marry Henri of Navarre, leader of the Huguenots and a heretic, but her heart belongs to the Duc de Guise. Margot could never predict the events that will come about from her wedding. While she is depending on the peace that is promised from this marriage her mother and brother have very different ideas. Ultimately Margot has to choose between her family and what she believes is right as France erupts in the St. Bartholomew’s Massacre.
Medicis Daughter has all the elements of fantastic historical fiction – court intrigue, family politics, love, and betrayals. I loved it! I’ve read a bit about Catherine de Medicis but never about Marguerite and I was fascinated by her story. Despite being brought up to always follow orders and being used as a pawn she still had a conscious which drove her to do what she thought best. While I felt sorry for her throughout much of the novel I ultimately admired her for her strength of character.
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. Highly recommended!