Duchessina by Carolyn Meyer (Published by Harcourt Books, June 1, 2007)
Orphaned at a young age and heir to a vast fortune, Catherine de' Medici was one of the wealthiest young women in 16th century Europe. But that did not make her childhood happy. For her own protection, she was kept locked in her home or secluded in a convent for most of her early years. After three years at the convent, she is finally set free, only to learn she is to be married to Henri II, prince of France, in a political union.
Married at the young age of fourteen, Catherine’s marriage is not happy. Her husband is not interested in her, preferring his much older mistress. Catherine knows that in order to secure her future, she must produce a male heir. In order to survive in the world she must live in, she determines that she will use her skill and cunning to outwit, out scheme, and outlast her enemies, shaping her future as one of the most powerful and feared queens in history.
Although Catherine de' Medici is not the most likeable of historical figures - she was known as a cruel and manipulative queen who ruthlessly eliminated her enemies - author Carolyn Meyer manages to make her a sympathetic young woman in this novel, telling of the events that helped shape her later character. I highly recommend this novel to teen readers who love historical fiction. It is a very fascinating look at a famous queen who is not often written about in young adult fiction.