The Rival Queens (Hardcover)

Catherine de' Medici, Her Daughter Marguerite de Valois, and the Betrayal that Ignited a Kingdom

By Nancy Goldstone

Little, Brown and Company, 9780316409650, 448pp.

Publication Date: June 23, 2015

Other Editions of This Title:
Digital Audiobook (6/22/2015)
Paperback (4/19/2016)

List Price: 30.00*
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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 thirty 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.

About the Author

Nancy Goldstone's previous books include The Maid and the Queen: The Secret History of Joan of Arc; Four Queens: The Provençal Sisters Who Ruled Europe; and The Lady Queen: The Notorious Reign of Joanna I, Queen of Naples, Jerusalem, and Sicily. She has also coauthored five books with her husband, Lawrence Goldstone. She lives in Sagaponack, New York.

Praise For The Rival Queens: Catherine de' Medici, Her Daughter Marguerite de Valois, and the Betrayal that Ignited a Kingdom

"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."—Anka Muhlstein, New York Review of Books

"Riveting."—Isabella Biedenharn, Entertainment Weekly

"What makes this account so convincing is not the evidence mustered, but the intuition applied....Margot, Catherine, Henry and various villains jump from the page in living, breathing, fornicating intriguing story, handsomely told."—Gerard DeGroot, The Times of London

"Tudor fans will be lured by this history set in Renaissance France."—Jocelyn McClurg, USA Today

"The 16th century, Nancy Goldstone notes in her gripping new biography, was the great age of queens...Goldstone wears her scholarship with flair; perhaps the most extraordinary feature of the story, which moves with the sharp characterization of a novel, is that it is entirely true."—Lisa Hilton, BBC History Magazine

"Riveting....In The Rival Queens, lovers are killed, assassination attempts are thwarted, and Marguerite endures enough close escapes to fill a series of action thrillers."
Patricia Treble, Macleans

"The queens Goldstone writes about weren't just any 16th-century queens; these women engaged in love affairs, group sex, killing sprees, and much, much more. Goldstone researched these royal families exhaustively and boiled what she learned down to a book that reads like a transcript of the latest season of Real Housewives but with higher stakes (life or death)."
Emma Morgenstern, Modern Notion Daily Podcast

"The Rival Queens is well written and thoroughly researched. It reads more like a novel than a biography--and that can be a good thing....A great cautionary note about the subterfuges that can be involved in the pursuit of power...Goldstone's book reminds us that the more things change, the more they remain the same."—NLB Horton, Vail Daily

"A highly dramatic dual biography.... If serious history readers believe that Tudor England is the only place where family and religious conflict at the highest level makes riveting reading matter, those folks need to take a close look across the English Channel and see what was transpiring at the same time in the French court.... The French contemporary to Elizabeth I was Queen Catherine de' Medici, widow of King Henri II and mother to three kings after him.... Tudor struggles pale in comparison! Read this along with Antonia Fraser's classic Mary Queen of Scots."
Brad Hooper, Booklist (Starred Review)

"This is a story of espionage, assassination, intrigue, and chicanery but also one that poignantly reminds readers of the vulnerabilities faced by women of the age....Readers are sure to be captivated by the lush details of these women's lives."—Library Journal

"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.... Goldstone upends conventional thought with this well-researched and well-written book."—Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

"A thrilling tale packed with historical details and shocking revelations. Nancy Goldstone writes with cinematic clarity and eloquently brings to life two indomitable women whose ambitions changed the course of European history."—Ivana Lowell, author of Why Not Say What Happened?

"The Rival Queens is a gripping tale of royal feuds and divided kingdoms. Goldstone has lovingly restored the reputation of Marguerite de Valois; revealing her to be a woman of passion and drive whose fierce loyalties burned bright until the day she died."—Amanda Foreman, author of A World on Fire and Georgiana

"[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