It’s 1572 and in an effort to ease tensions between the Catholics and the Huguenots Henry III King of Navarre is married to Marguerite de Valois (Margot). Shortly after the marriage the Huguenots are slaughtered at the order of Charles IX and his mother Catherine de Medicis on Saint Bartholomew’s Day. Catherine is also bent on destroying Henry as her astrologer has foretold that her three sons will die and Henry of Navarre will rule France through the Bourbon line. Margot’s dashing lover La Mole and his compatriot Coconnas are our two heroes and their fates weave in and out of the lives of the French Court.
Outside of that, this is really too difficult of a storyline to describe unless I wanted to write a book report and give it all away, and you know I don’t do that. In typical Dumas fashion and flair La Reine Margot overflows with treachery, intrigue, hidden staircases and doors, poison, murder plots, gallant heroes and best of all – Catherine de Medici is the most deliciously over the top villainess I have come across in a long time. What fun! Despite a very difficult start trying to grasp the political complexities and characters, by the halfway mark I was rocking along and had a hard time keeping my nose out of it.
While I loved it to bits, just be warned if you are new to Dumas this is probably not the book for you – the first few chapters will frustrate you so much you’ll never want to try him again. I’d try The Count of Monte Cristo or The Three Musketeers first. The Oxford Classics addition has a very helpful forward and character notes in the back – but be careful reading too much or you’ll pick up a nasty spoiler or two.