History was unkind to Marguerite de Valois, daughter of France's queen Catherine de Medicis. It condemned her along with her violent family for the Saint Bartholomew Massacre. That event, which took place five days after Marguerite's wedding to King Henri of Navarre, in August of 1572, precipitated France's Wars of Religion during which Catholics slaughtered thousands of Huguenots—Calvinist Protestants. But was not only historians who painted Marguerite in unflattering tones. Fiction by Alexandre Dumas and Michel Zevaco presented her as as lascivious and possibly incestuous bubble head. Though these writers credited her with saving a few Huguenots, they focused on lurid aspects of her sex life such as he affair with the Duke Henri of Guise—the alleged murderer of admiral Coligny--and the countless dalliances that followed it.
Sophie Perinot's MEDICIS DAUGHTER sets the record straight with a Marguerite with the vast intelligence and tact needed to navigate safely the perilous political currents of the French court. Aside from the occasional beating from her mother, Madame la Serpente, and vicious sibling, this Margot transitions from adolescent longing for love to a determined quest for control of her own destiny. She evolves from political pawn to a capable diplomat intent in forging an alliance with her Protestant husband.Perinot's Marguerite escapes from from a flat and colourless canvas to emerge as an endearingly complex, very literate, tolerant, strong and capable woman. Her reward is the sweet give of independence. There is much more to her story--romance, peril, violence, elegance and grace. But the best way to get to know Marguerite is to read MEDICIS DAUGHTER. Richtext recommends it as one of the best reads in 2015.