The Serpent and the Moon: Two Rivals for the Love of a Renaissance King Paperback – 13 Sep 2005
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"A cracking good story...a consummate storyteller."
-- Lucinda Hahn, Chicago Tribune
"A hugely entertaining book...the stuff of high Renaissance drama."
-- Leonie Friede, The Globe and Mail (Toronto)
"A sizzling story about love and betrayal in a royal family...a true tale of palace intrigue in the sixteenth century."
-- Atlanta Journal-Constitution
"The author, who knows a thing or two about palace intrigue herself, writes with style and panache and serves up marvelous details of pageantry, court fashion, furniture, and gossip worthy of the master of the genre, the duc de Saint-Simon."
-- Dominick Dunne
As a descendant of both Catherine de Medici and Diane de Poitiers, and an insider who has seen her share of palace intrigues, no writer could be more equipped than Princess Michael of Kent to explore one of history's most fascinating royal love stories. Catherine de Medici was fourteen when she was bartered in marriage to France by her ambitious cousin, Pope Clement VII. Catherine fell in love with her future husband, Henri, at first sight. But Henri had eyes only for his mistress, the beautiful Diane de Poitiers, eighteen years his senior. Diane and Henri ruled as one, their intertwined monograms and signature black and white colours appearing on everything from royal proclamations to palace doorknobs. Catherine, despised at court, watched miserably as Henri became Dauphin and then King, each day growing more devoted to Diane. Only Henri's death at the age of forty-two ended his love for Diane and Catherine's long, agonizing 'hate and wait'. THE SERPENT AND THE MOON is peopled by the most illustrious figures of the time - including Henry VIII of England, Francois I, and Anne Boleyn.A ten-year labour of love from a uniquely qualified writer, this is a moving and personal love story as well as a richly woven history of an extraordinary time. See all Product description
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It is far more than just a biography of Diane de Poitiers, Catherine de Medici and King Henry II of France. It is a book about a whole period of French and European history. The Princess manage to paint in vivid colours a picture of the whole time in which the three main characters acted. She puts things into perspective.
I liked especially that Princess Michael does not start the description of the life of Diane de Poitiers or Catherine de Medici as soon as they become mistress or wife of Henry of France. Both had a life before that which formed them and explains very much how they managed their lives at Court and filled their positions. But of course one has to understand Henry of France as well and why Diane became his soulmate, wife in all but name and why he denied Catherine her rightful position. So this book had to be about three people. Otherwise it would not have been complete. Princess Micahel gives you an idea what these people were about but leaves you enough space to form your own opinion (which I believe is important).
Princess Michael has an unique grab for the royal symbolism of the time - the ceremonies which played such an important role at the time, lots of mones time and energy were spend on them. But they were not mere entertainment but carried a much deeper impact. Maybe partly because of her own position but properly due to an instinctive understanding Princess Michael of Kent can transmit this understanding to the readers.
Some words about the layout of the book: I liked very much how the chapters were structured, how much love and care were spend on details and pictures. It is just a beautiful book.
All in all a book I highly recommend! 5 stars well deserved.