Title: How the French Invented Love: Nine Hundred Years of Passion and Romance
Author: Marilyn Yalom
Source: from publisher for a TLC Book Tour
Review Summary: A fascinating read, with unbelievable anecdotes and captivating stories. Lacking a cohesive theme, but still interesting, elegant, and insightful.
How the French Invented Love is a history of love in French society, particularly French literature, from around 1100AD to today. The author summarizes classic stories to give you a feel for the era, but leaves out just enough that you desperately want to read the complete work. These glimpses into each era’s literature are spiced up by the addition of true anecdotes from the author’s personal experience in France. Some of these stories are not for the faint of heart, as they include adultery and other even more unusual romantic situations, but there are very few explicit sex scenes included. I would rate this one PG-13. Continue reading
Title: Catherine de Medici: Renaissance Queen of France
Author: Leonie Frieda
Fun Fact: During her life, three of Catherine de Medici’s sons were king of France.
Review Summary: I loved the characters and their stories, but the narration was a little dry. It wasn’t overly scholarly or a difficult read, but the plot was sometimes hard to follow and I think this was because the author treated the book like a list of facts instead of a story.
After reading The Dark Queen, a historical fiction novel in which Catherine de Medici is portrayed as the titular dark queen and an evil witch, I was left wanting to know more about the historical basis for the story. In The Dark Queen Catherine is accused of everything from poisoning her rivals to employing beautiful seductresses to control her courtiers to engineering a massacre. This non-fiction account is largely intended to dispel such rumors and show what an impressive woman Catherine de Medici really was. And after reading the book, I’m convinced. She was a little ruthless protecting the throne for her sons, but she was also a very courageous, capable, and mostly well-intentioned woman. Interestingly, many of the horrible things Catherine did in The Dark Queen are based on rumors the existed in Catherine’s time, although most are false or only very loosely based on actual events. Continue reading