After the death of her husband, she ruled France as Regent for three of her sons and was a formidable force during a time of violence when Catholics and Protestants (Huguenots) were fighting. The Huguenots wanted freedom to worship, the Catholics wanted a Catholic France. I found this not much different from the battles with Muslims and Christians today. There were some parts of the book that was difficult to read. During the Reformation, and Counter-Reformation fires were set where people worshiped, there were mass beheadings and gruesome fates for those who chose a different religion from the reigning family and their government. Most southern European countries favored the inquisition. Europe was divided at the time, where northern countries were protestant or Lutheran (England under Queen Elizabeth I was protestant) and many others Catholic, (Italy, Spain, France)
Catherine de Medici was a strong person, but the novel gives us a glimpse into her struggles as a woman dealing with the customs of France. The novel reminded me a little of the Jean Plaidy historical books.