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Catherine de Medici: A Biography

Catherine de Medici: A Biography [Kindle Edition]

Leonie Frieda
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)

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Product Description


'a scholarly yet immensely readable biography.' -- WATERSTONE'S QUARTERLY

'it is skilfully written and on balance sympathetic to Catherine's stewardship.' -- Owen Dawson, THE IRISH TIMES

'she's written a history book that has al the pace and excitement of a novel, a rare achievement indeed.' -- CHOICE

'this dense often funny account...... it is full of choice details.' -- Robbie Hudson, THE SUNDAY TIMES

'well-written and engaging.' -- Sally Cousins, THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH

Book Description

The bestselling revisionist biography of one of the great women of the 16th century

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2923 KB
  • Print Length: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Phoenix; New Ed edition (8 Dec 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S. r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #169,697 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
75 of 82 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Catherine De Medici 23 Jan 2004
Leonie Frieda has written a truly fascinating account of the swirling maelstrom of murder, assassination, betrayal, religious schism and premeditated massacre that was politics in the Age of the Valois Kings of France. I was gripped from the first sentence when Catherine de Medici's husband King Henry II, was killed horribly in a freak jousting accident. Although it's very scholarly and well researched, this book reads like a thriller. I can't recommend it enough.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but flawed 18 April 2006
Unlike the other reviewers of this book I have to say that I thought this book was rather flawed. Frieda has assembled a wealth of material and some of what she says is very interesting- I especially liked her portrayal of the complex, and somewhat contradictory Henri III. Also despite the fact that she is not English Frieda does generally write very well. However her attempts to portray Catherine not as the Machiavellian and ruthless creature history remembers her to be but instead as a committed wife, loving mother and tolerant ruler do not entirely ring true. Frieda is obviously trying to avoid the hackneyed portrayal of Catherine mentioned above. I believe though that she over states her case. I also disliked some of the conclusions she drew on the more peripheral characters. I thought it was especially harsh to describe Antoinne de Bourbon as "bird brained," and that maybe Frieda was a little to uncritical on his brother Condé. Despite this Frieda does offer a very detailed account of the period, gives interesting pictures of many of the figures of Catherine's life and comes up with a different, if debatable conclusion.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not strictly a biography 25 Feb 2006
By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE
I enjoyed this book. It's a lively and generally clear account of a complex period of French history but it's really that and not a biography of Catherine de' Medici. There is, for example, a section all about Henri III's time in Poland before becoming king of France which is not part of Catherine's biography. There are occassions where it feels like Frieda suddenly 'remembers' that this is supposed to be a book about Catherine & so she jumps back to that rather abruptly.
There are also occassions where I felt she revealed a lack of historical training. She judges Catherine's actions with the benefit of hindsight, forgetting that Catherine did not have the luxury of knowing exactly what the repercussions of each action would be.
These complaints aside, it's a very good read & reliably accurate. It's obviously well-researched and she has made a very good job of making a subject which can get bogged down in tedious details about one faction or another into a vivid read without over-simplifying. I'd recommend it as a stand-alone read or as a starting point to more detailed study of the late Valois monarchy.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Black Widow of France 7 July 2010
Although she was one of the most powerful women of the 16th Century, Catherine de Medici remains a mystery to most English speaking readers who, if they know her at all, would probably only do so because her involvement in the infamous St Bartholomew's Day massacre. But like many other figures of history, Catherine's life was multi-layered and full of personal tragedy. This biography does much to bring her closer to the modern reader and allows us some insight into events which shaped her life. It is well written and readable, though admittedly, I would have liked a little more detail of her early life in Italy.
Whether you come away liking or loathing her, it has to be admitted that she was a survivor, clawing her way to power in much the same way as our own Queen Elizabeth I. Her story is both fascinating and repugnant at the same time and this book will certainly please anyone who has an interest in European history.
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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unputdownable! 21 Jan 2004
Witty, incisive and as exciting as any thriller, I found 'Catherine de Medici' impossible to put down. For half the book I admired the heroine for the way she fought for her three sons who became Kings of France after her husband died in a jousting accident, for the other half I despised the ruthless, manipulative monster she'd become after the King's gory death. Certainly it's brought the Renaissance alive for me better than any book I've read before, and I recommend it to anyone who is interested in a true story of assassination, betrayal, high politics and maternal love.
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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
I was looking forward very much to reading this book as I had read several sparkling reviews praising the author's writing skills. I had also read about her personal struggle against drugs and was impressed by her honesty and courage. The story is indeed well written, but (and this is only a personal view) I do not believe that the author ranks up there with people like Barbara Tuchman or William Manchester. The content is interesting but sometimes the text reads like a news narrative, and there are a few places in which an introductory phrase would have made the text flow more smoothly.
Also, I am not utterly convinced that the Saint Bartholomew's Day Massacre can simply be dismissed by the author as "a surgical operation that went wrong". To be sure, Catholic and Protestant propaganda writers may have exaggerated her evilness, but the author's own obvious liking for this remarkable woman must also have coloured her interpretation.
I would still recommend this book highly to any prospective reader if merely for the immense amount of interesting detail about the period, which is based on scholarly and meticulous research. The book starts off with a very vivid account of the death of Henry II of France in a jousting accident and is worth purchasing for this chapter alone.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Partisan and needs editing
This book is certainly an entertaining enough read. However the English is sometimes clumsy and the author overuses certain words (such as 'anathema') - the book could have done... Read more
Published 5 months ago by patrice
5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic!
What a superb & witty book! This is history how it should be written. Nothing but praise for this absolute pageturner.
Published 7 months ago by M. Baerends
4.0 out of 5 stars Catherine de Medici
Didn't know a lot about Catherine de Medici but found this book very informative and well written. Would recommend it.
Published 11 months ago by Vanessa Fancourt
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating
Leonie Freida has clearly gone to great lengths to research Catherine and the times she lived in. As a consequence I felt as though I had lived in this book whilst reading it. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Poppytastic
5.0 out of 5 stars Exciting!
Leonie Frieda's CATHERINE DE MEDICI is surprising because before the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre of the huguenots, nothing happens. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Boyd Hone
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful, characterful and guileful: Catherine de Medici
An excellent account of a fascinating woman, sufficiently light-of-touch to be readable on holiday or on a plane, but scholarly and highly informative. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Norman Ernest Palmer
2.0 out of 5 stars messy
it might be me, but i found this book far too much effort to read. it's not the information and research - which, as far as i can tell, is detailed and comprehensive - but the... Read more
Published on 17 Mar 2012 by wordophile
5.0 out of 5 stars Best historical life story of Catherine de Medici
Since I watched the film La Reine Margot I was very much interested in Catherine de Medici and her time in French history. Read more
Published on 27 Nov 2011 by F. Filiz Ali
4.0 out of 5 stars 'no mother in history has done more to prom ote her children at...
Brilliantly researched yet always readable biography, Frieda takes us from Catherine's inauspicious start as 'orphan of Florence' to a marriage where she always played second... Read more
Published on 24 Nov 2011 by sally tarbox
4.0 out of 5 stars catherine de medici. a biography
this is a very interesting book..... very well written....i have learnt a lot about that era.... a felt i was almost there .... couldnt put it down.
Published on 29 Oct 2011 by JJ
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