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All she needs is love

A scorned queen  plots her survival

By Lucia Anderson

For The Free Lance–Star

ALL Catherine de’ Medici  wanted was for  her husband to love her as she loved him.

No luck there.

Never, in the 26 years of his marriage to Catherine, did Henri II of France turn aside from his devotion to his mistress, Diane de Poitiers. Humiliated at every turn, powerless against the bond between Henri and Diane, Catherine schemed and plotted her way through the scandalous French court.

Her story is told in “Madame Serpent,” a reissue of the 1952 novel by Jean Plaidy, a nom de plume of Eleanor Hibbert, who also wrote under the names Victoria Holt and Philippa Carr.

Catherine’s marriage was doomed from the start—Henri had already formed a strong attachment to Diane before the little Italian ever came on the scene, and she had been brutally trained never to show her emotions.

“Do not forget that you are a daughter of the house of Medici. It is for you to show dignity, courage, and learning always—passion and folly never,” was the mantra of her early years in Florence.

Catherine’s only hope was the 10 children Henri dutifully gave her, but even that had its problems.

Plaidy has crafted a compelling narrative, full of historical detail and fascinating characters. She is credited with resurrecting the historical novel as a genre, and “Madame Serpent” shows why.

Lucia Anderson is a freelance writer  in Woodbridge.


By Jean Plaidy

(Touchstone, $16, 416 pp.)


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