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Blood, Fire and Gold: The story of Elizabeth I and Catherine de Medici

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It succeeds on many levels simultaneously, and is so interesting and engaging that I will certainly seek out other books on this period and other books by this author.

Estelle Paranque succeeds in bringing a fresh narration to the complex and extraordinary lives of two incredibly powerful women.

Thoroughly recommended for anyone interested in the period, and even those, like me, who thought they were bored for Elizabethan England. Paranque expertly reminds us of the gravitational pull of Spain on our protagonists without bogging the story down with too much detail. More importantly, readers will leave with a sense that they know and understand the person behind the power.

Two queens; one a wife and the mother of kings and the other a virgin who had to fight for the right to rule her country independently. She then peppers the pages with dialogue narratives a la historical fiction (this point will be addressed again later in this review). Mary’s mother, Marie de Guise, was her regent in Scotland, and was much hated by the protestant lords there whom Elizabeth supported and with whom she signed the Treaty of Edinburgh in 1560 which Mary Stuart refused to ratify. The singularly interesting and unusual correspondence in time of two domineering and intelligent women ruling some of the most powerful nations in Europe at the same time is fascinating, and it is almost criminal that a book studying their relationship has not previously been written. Francis II died of an ear infection at the end of that year, and Mary left France for Scotland in 1561.The first third or so of the book is a standard recounting of the early years of Elizabeth and Catherine - rather rushed and condensed. Many would think Elizabeth's equal would be Mary Stuart, Queen of Scotland, but from this book, Catherine de Medici is her true equal of a female put with royal power.

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