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Madame Serpent

Madame Serpent

A Catherine de' Medici Novel

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Fourteen-year-old Catherine de’ Medici arrives in Marseilles to marry Henry, Duke of Orleans, second son of the King of France. The brokenhearted Catherine has left her true love in Italy, forced into trading her future happiness for marriage into the French royal family.

Amid the glittering fêtes and banquets of the most immoral court in sixteenth-century Europe, the reluctant bride becomes a passionate but unwanted wife. Humiliated and unloved, Catherine spies on Henry and his lover, the infamous Diane de Poitiers. Tortured by what she sees, Catherine becomes consumed by a ruthless ambition destined to make her the most despised woman in France: the dream that one day the French crown will be worn by a Medici heir. . . .
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  • Touchstone | 
  • 416 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781451686203 | 
  • July 2012
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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Madame Serpent includes an introduction, discussion questions and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


When fourteen-year-old Caterina de’ Medici arrives in Marseilles to marry the Henry, Duke of Orléans, second son of the King of France, she brings with her all the cleverness, cunning, and spirit that runs strong in the Medici blood. She also brings a broken heart.

Soon, however, a growing passion for her new husband and the promise of a Medici heir one day occupying the throne of France transforms Caterina—the reluctant bride—into Catherine, the youngest member of the glittering French court. But Henry has eyes for only the much older Diane de Poitiers. Fueled by jealousy, Catherine schemes to attain the affections of the man who is rightly hers . . . and no one can stand in her way.

Topics & Questions for Discussion

1.As a child, what does Catherine learn from her Aunt Clarissa, from Pope Clement VII, and from the sisters of the convent of Santa Annunziate delle Murate? How do these lessons serve her at court as Dauphiness and later as Queen?

2.Do you think Catherine ever truly left her Medici roots see more

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