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Publisher's Summary

The riveting true story of mother-and-daughter queens Catherine de' Medici and Marguerite de Valois, whose wildly divergent personalities and turbulent relationship changed the shape of their tempestuous and dangerous century.

Set in magnificent Renaissance France, this is the story of two remarkable women, a mother and daughter driven into opposition by a terrible betrayal that threatened to destroy the realm.

Catherine de' Medici was a ruthless pragmatist and powerbroker who dominated the throne for 30 years. Her youngest daughter, Marguerite, the glamorous "Queen Margot," was a passionate free spirit, the only adversary whom her mother could neither intimidate nor control.

When Catherine forces the Catholic Marguerite to marry her Protestant cousin Henry of Navarre against her will and then uses her opulent Parisian wedding as a means of luring his followers to their deaths, she creates not only savage conflict within France but also a potent rival within her own family.

Rich in detail and vivid prose, Goldstone's narrative unfolds as a thrilling historical epic. Treacherous court politics, poisonings, inter-national espionage, and adultery form the background to a story that includes such celebrated figures as Elizabeth I; Mary, Queen of Scots; and Nostradamus. The Rival Queens is a dangerous tale of love, betrayal, ambition, and the true nature of courage, the echoes of which still resonate.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your My Library section along with the audio.
©2015 Nancy Goldstone (P)2015 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"With compelling storytelling, Goldstone colorfully weaves together the tales of these two women...whose powerful personalities and deep allegiance to France helped shape the country's future." (Publishers Weekly)
"[Goldstone] spins a tangled tale of rivalry, ambition, and, especially - for the rare women leaders of the time - sheer self-preservation...Goldstone has a remarkable handle on these often Byzantine royal machinations. History brought to vivid life in the characters of these women of purpose." (Kirkus Reviews)
"Attention, Game of Thrones fans: The most enjoyably sensational aspects of medieval politics - double-crosses, ambushes, bizarre personal obsessions, lunacy and naked self-interest - are in abundant evidence." (Laura Miller, Salon)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Nella
  • Mountain City, TN, United States
  • 07-04-15

Definitely not a dull bio!

Any additional comments?

A fantastic look into 16th century French court life. The intrigues, manipulations, coercions, changing alliances, and reversals make for a larger than life historical story. The .pdf material was of great help in keeping up with the characters and events. Thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend it to all who are interested in history, and there is romance, heartbreak, and tragedy in here, too.

14 of 14 people found this review helpful

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History tells true drama

Loved this book that told the story's accurately yet did not get into gruesome detail.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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great book

I loved this book. it was well written and very informative and engaging. I didn't know much about Margaret de Medici before. the narrator is one of the best I've heard so far.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Two Amazing Woman and Conflicted Women!

Any additional comments?

The Medici Family is a favorite study of mine and this book does a spectacular job at bringing Catherine de Medici and her family to life. Well done and highly recommended!

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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Fascinating but not what I expected

Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed and appreciated learning about history from the point of view of two women since women's stories are far too often overlooked. However, from the description, I was expecting to read about the direct conflict between a mother and daughter who took on unprecedented leadership roles; this book is more a lesson about the 16th century religious conflict in France that happens to explore said conflict through the stories of two women who played key (but not necessarily definitive) roles. Since many of us are familiar with the religious conflict in England through the reigns of Henry VIII, Mary I, and Elizabeth I, it was certainly interesting to learn how the same struggle played out among their French contemporaries.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Pita
  • Miami
  • 06-28-15

Good history lesson

What did you like best about The Rival Queens? What did you like least?

The book was obviously meticulously researched. The characters are more interesting than if they were fictional. The events are fascinating...marriages, affairs, wars and religious upheavals, even a massacre. Unfortunately the author does not manage to conjure the same excitement with the Medici and the Valois that Alison Weir and Hilary Mantel do with the Tudors

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

The age during which this story takes place, the period of history itself, is extremely interesting. The two central characters are simply enthralling; it is a shame that Catherine de Medici does not quite come to life in this book. Queen Margot fairs a little better.

What aspect of Suzanne Toren’s performance would you have changed?

Somehow I found her tone pompous. She did not add anything to the characters. I did not particularly like her reding.

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

I would definitely go see any movie about Margaret de Valois and Catherine De Medici; everything necessary for a great script is in this book...if the script writer could only add the spark

10 of 12 people found this review helpful

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History comes alive

You wouldn't think a history book would be so darn interesting but I couldn't stop listening. I very much enjoyed it and the narrator was amazing.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Mary
  • RED HOOK, NY, United States
  • 03-19-17

Annoying narration

Ruined a good book. So affected, very tiresome elocution mars a wonderful historical treatise on a subject rarely covered.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Not my favorite

Is there anything you would change about this book?

No - The book appeared very well researched and narration was good. I was just bored with subject matter. I wished the book had more of analysis of the impact of Catherine de Medici and Margo's decisions on the average frenchman of the time. This book reduces the women and the their family members into narcissistic and egotistic people. There doesn't seem to be any substance to their characters as they would in real life. This is just my opinion but I couldn't finish this book!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Good Story Hard to follow

Any additional comments?

This was a good story but very hard to follow because there are so many characters involved all named the same thing.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful