Amid the glamorous intrigues of the 16th-century French court, Marguerite de Valois, the youngest Medici daughter, deftly balances secret escapades and public duties.
Perinot (The Sister Queens, 2012) takes on the life of Marguerite, affectionately known as Margot, a woman maligned by history yet ripe for the romance of historical fiction. Emotionally and politically controlled by her powerful mother, the icily regal Queen Catherine, Margot is gifted with prescient visions, including those of black birds, which first signal the unexpected arrival of Catherine in Amboise and the subsequent departure of Margot to Fontainebleau, where she begins her education in subterfuge. Destined to be a queen herself, Margot must quickly and thoroughly learn to walk the line between coquette—under the tutelage of her friend the Duchesse de Nevers—and une fille de France—under the guidance of her gouvernante, the Baronne de Retz. Above all, she must submit to her mother’s will; she must be politically useful in Catherine’s efforts to maintain the fragile peace between Protestants and Catholics. Someday, her mother hopes, she will act as a peace pledge among nations. The War of Religions becomes a domestic tale through the eyes of Margot, a woman who must negotiate not only her mother’s stratagems, but also the hearts of the three Henris: Henri, Duc de Anjou, the brother who jealously nurtures and manipulates her affections for his own dark, incestuous desires; Henri de Bourbon, Prince of Navarre, the man her father intended as her future husband; and Henri, Duc de Guise, the noble defender of Catholicism who steals her heart. Perinot matches the rhythm of Margot’s life to the political storms: as the battles escalate, so do the perils of love and lust.
A riveting page-turner skillfully blending illicit liaisons and political chicanery.