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The Italian Woman

The Italian Woman

A Catherine de' Medici Novel

  • reading group guide
The second book in the classic Catherine de’ Medici trilogy from Jean Plaidy, the grande dame of historical fiction

When Catherine de’ Medici was forced to marry Henry, Duke of Orleans, her heart was not the only one that was broken. Jeanne of Navarre once dreamed of marrying this same prince, but, like Catherine, she must comply with France’s political needs. And so both Catherine’s and Jeanne’s lives are set on unwanted paths, destined to cross in affairs of state, love, and faith, driving them to become deadly political rivals.

Years later Jeanne is happily married to the dashing but politically inept Antoine de Bourbon. But the widowed Catherine is now the ambitious mother of princes, and she will do anything to see her beloved second son, Henry, rule France. As civil war ravages the country and Jeanne fights for the Huguenot cause, Catherine advances along her unholy road, making enemies at every turn.
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  • Touchstone | 
  • 400 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781451686524 | 
  • January 2013
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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for The Italian Woman 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.


Introduction

When Catherine de’ Medici was forced to marry Henry of Orléans, her heart was not the only one that was broken. Her cousin Jeanne of Navarre had once dreamed of marrying this same prince, but she, too, was compelled to submit to a politically advantageous union sought by King Francis. Envy and mistrust color Catherine and Jeanne’s relationship, pitting them against each other as their lives cross in affairs of state, love, and faith.

Years later Jeanne finds herself happily married to the dashing but politically inept Antoine de Bourbon, while the widowed Catherine continues to be loved by few and feared by many, including her own children. But Catherine, now the powerful mother of princes, who will stop at nothing to see her beloved son, Henry, rule France. As religious civil war ravages the country and Jeanne fights for the Huguenot cause, Catherine advances along her own unholy road, making enemies at every turn.

Topics & Questions for Discussion

1. “‘Unless there were great honor in marriage I s see more

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About the Author

Jean Plaidy

Jean Plaidy, the pen name of the prolific English author Eleanor Hibbert, was one of the preeminent authors of historical fiction for most of the twentieth century. Her novels have been translated into more than twenty languages and have sold more than 100 million copies worldwide. She died in 1993.

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