Monday, May 14, 2007


Meyer, Carolyn. 2007. Duchessina: A Novel of Catherine de' Medici.

Duchessina is told in first person narrative. This gives the reader an insider-look at being royal...both its ups and downs. As a child, Caterina Maria Romula di Lorenzo de' Medici, aka Duchessina, was orphaned. Being royal, she was raised in great style by relatives--sometimes distant relatives--who loved money more than people. She was often lonely as a child. And often unhappy. She found some friends. But she also learned with each passing year, that her family had many enemies. That being royal could be dangerous. Could be life-threatening. Having a pope for a relation was equally dangerous. She learned that most of the people around her were obsessed with power and crazed for money. Her life was in danger more than once, as rebellions started across Italy. She was 'imprisoned' for her own well being in several monasteries through the years. Depending on which monastery she was living, she found the nuns and other children treated her either kindly or with scorn. Many hated her because of her wealth. Many hated her because of her name. Many hated her for who she represented. She was always viewed as a pawn in a powerful game. Unable to make her own decisions or guide her own fate, she simply reacted to her latest set of circumstances. Sometimes she was dressed in style and living the luxurious life, but other times she was living as a pauper. She faced hunger. She faced poverty. She faced danger. Through the years, she most wondered who she would marry one day. Would he be royal? Would he be noble? Would he be rich? Would he be Italian? French? Would he love her? Or would he treat her as a possession like all of her guardians? Would she ever be loved or appreciated for who she really was? Or would she always be seen as someone representing generations of money and power...and corruption?

It is hard to describe Duchessina. The book, not the person. It covers a wide span of time. Telling the story of her birth, her childhood, her marriage, the birth of her children, and the death of her husband. It is not always easy for YA books to do this successfully. I'll be completely honest here. Duchessina fascinated me. I was drawn into the story. I wanted to know what happened. I cared about what happened. However, I am an adult reader. An adult reader with an obsession for all things Carolyn Meyer. An adult reader with a passion for history. An adult reader with a love of biographies. So while I loved Duchessina, and can happily recommend it to like minded individuals--and I know many--who can't get enough of history, I'm not sure if the typical teenager will be as enthralled with the tale of Duchessina. I certainly read historical fiction as a teen. But it's hard to analyze what teens are reading...and what they might like. It's not really my place to predict though, fortunately.

The book will be released in June 2007.

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