Set in Renaissance France at the magnificent court of the Valois kings, The Rival Queens is the history of two remarkable women, a mother and daughter driven into opposition by a terrible betrayal that threatened to destroy the realm. Catherine de' Medici, the infamous queen mother of France, was a consummate 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 Huguenot followers to their deaths, in the notorious St Bartholomew's Day Massacre of 1572, she creates not only savage conflict within France but also a potent rival within her own family. Rich in historical detail and vivid prose, Nancy Goldstone's narrative unfolds as a thrilling historical epic.
Treacherous court politics, poisonings, international espionage and adultery form the background to a story whose fascinating array of characters include such celebrated figures as Elizabeth I, Mary, Queen of Scots, and Nostradamus. From Catherine's early struggles with her husband's exquisite mistress, Diane de Poitiers, and her exultant rise to power, through Marguerite's poignant sacrifice of love and happiness to save her husband's life, and ultimately to the political awakening that leads to a threat to her very survival, The Rival Queens is a dangerous tale of love, betrayal, ambition and the true nature of courage, the echoes of which still resonate.
About the Author
Nancy Goldstone is the author of FOUR QUEENS: THE PROVENCAL SISTERS WHO RULED EUROPE, JOANNA: THE NOTORIOUS QUEEN OF NAPLES, JERUSALEM AND SICILY and THE MAID AND THE QUEEN: THE SECRET HISTORY OF JOAN OF ARC AND YOLANDE OF ARAGON.She lives in New York City.
A gripping tale of royal feuds and divided kingdoms -- AMANDA FOREMAN
Goldstone upends conventional thought with this well-researched and well-written book, arguing that Catherine de' Medici (1519-1589), the French queen mother, was less Machiavellian in nature than generally believed and that she reacted to geopolitical situations with disastrous results for both her family and France ... Goldstone's witty comments make this historical family drama as easy to read as the best fiction, but it's all the more tragic for being true
* PUBLISHERS WEEKLY *
This engrossing, action-packed narrative
immerses readers in a tumultuous period of European history * LIBRARY JOURNAL *A thrilling tale
packed with historical details and shocking revelations. Nancy Goldstone writes with cinematic clarity
and vividly brings to life two indomitable women whose ambitions changed the course of European history -- IVANA LOWELL
Nancy Goldstone leads her reader with a very sure hand through the most dramatic events of Renaissance France. Her narrative is so gripping that THE RIVALS unfolds like a thriller
-- ANKA MUHLSTEIN
One of the challenges facing any historian of this period is the sheer profusion of themes that need to be handled ... What makes Goldstone's biography so enjoyable is that she manages, thanks to the clarity of her presentation, to lead readers through this labyrinth with a sure and steady hand ... She is a popular historian whose writing is based on very serious research, with a gift for telling the most complicated tale in vivid, accessible prose
* NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS *