Thursday, April 8, 2010

Review: The Italian Woman by Jean Plaidy

Title: The Italian Woman
Author: Jean Plaidy
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Arrow, 2006

First published: 1952


The second in Jean Plaidy's trilogy of the life of Catherine d' Medici this book is the story of two women whose lives were destined to cross in affairs of state, love and faith, driving them to become deadly enemies.

After years of being shamed and neglected by her husband's devotion to his mistress,  Queen Catherine suddenly finds herself a widow and in a powerful position as the mother of a young and sickly king and his siblings. Her favourite is her third son Henry and her desire to see him on the throne will motivate many a devious scheme.  She will also stop at nothing in order to bring about the downfall of another young woman she so dislikes.

Jeanne is a princess of France, the cousin of Catherine's husband Henry II , and on the death of her father Queen of Navarre. She marries for love into the Protestant Bourbon family and in time becomes a member of the Reformed Faith and a staunch supporter of the Huguenot cause.

The story moves between the two women and their personal conflict mirrors the political and religious struggles happening in the  country. France is vulnerable with the power of the Protestant Queen Elizabeth I of England on one side and Catholic Philip of Spain on the other, each of them with an eye on the main chance.

Jean Plaidy breathes life into the people and events of history with a wonderful mix of historical detail , excitement and romance that makes them able to be enjoyed by any reader. It's 30 years since I first read her books and they still capture my attention without in any way feeling dated. 

There is a helpful family tree in the front and an author's note at the back with a list of reference titles.

Historical Tapestry ABC Historical Fiction Challenge

I is for Italian.


  1. Gotta have a family tree in some books :)

  2. Well..this is right up my alley- I am dying to read it! Thanks for the great review:)