A little too much challenge in my personal life has left me unable to write much these days, but that doesn’t mean I’m not still reading. While on vacation in Mexico, Montezuma attacked me for most of my week but I read three books and since I’ve come home another one has joined the done pile. Jeanne Kalogridis’ The Devil’s Queen caught my attention on the flyleaf with its promise of the life of Catherine de Medici. It did not disappoint. Medici has long been reviled for so many of her deeds that I enjoyed the author’s attempt to give her subject a more human face. Whether or not the astrology references are true for Medici I do not know but they do allow an intriguing story line. Imagine a woman unable to get pregnant who uses the darker arts to achieve this. Of course the cost has to be born as the novel progresses, with the oldest child dying young and the crown falling to the least suited child. The usual treatment of young daughters is present with two of Catherine’s daughters married off for political reasons. And her best son turns out to be totally unlike the handsome wise man he portrays.
Kalogridis does a masterful job of showing the human side of Catherine and making her bloody decisions seem to be the only course available. I quite enjoyed this even though its brilliance made me angry with myself for not getting my writing done. Next week is another meeting of my awesome critique group and I am determined to have a lot of pages rewritten for their consideration. If Catherine de Medici can conquer her demons, so can I.