Minou Joubert and her family are living in Puivert after the dramatic events of 10 years ago. They take care of Huguenot refugees as the religious wars are still raging across France. When they receive an invitation to the marriage of the Huguenot prince Henri Of Navarra to the catholic Marguerite of Valois, Minou and Piet leave for Paris with their children Martha and Jean-Jacques. In the meantime, their arch enemy bishop Vidal is looking for documents of Piet’s mother in Amsterdam.
The city of tears opens ten years after the events of ‘The burning chambers‘. Minou is now the lady of Puivert and Piet, injured from yet another battle, is harboring refugees in their village. But a royal marriage promises peace and Piet and Minou are invited to Paris. When their five-year-old daughter Martha vanishes on the 22nd of August 1572 and blood is shed in the streets Paris, the family flees to Amsterdam.
Mosse takes you to the bloody events of the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre. One of the most dark chapters in the history of France. It’s the first time I read about it from another perspective than Catherine De Medici and the royal family (as was the case in ‘The devil’s queen‘ and ‘Queen Jezebel‘). Afterwards, we arrive in Amsterdam during the Eighty Year’s War with Spain. Amsterdam is still a catholic city but protestants are crying in the streets for change. I love how Mosse takes me to the 16th century but without the traditional focus on The Tudors. This is also fascinating European history, but often overlooked.
It’s again a very smartly crafted novel. It blends the lives of two families with real historical events. This of course means that sometimes there are some coincidences to make it work, but that didn’t bother me. As in ‘The burning chambers’, a part of the plot surrounds around the parentage of one of the main characters. Another plot centers around Vidal and his son Louis looking for relics around France. But I still preferred the historical context and the storylines that focused on Minou and her relationship with her husband, children and other relatives.
I believe I enjoyed this book even more than ‘The burning chambers’, as the characters were already familiar to me and the historical setting was even more gripping. I’m really curious to see how the next book will play out as we already got two prologues set almost 300 years later in South-Africa. But as this sequel isn’t out yet, I’ll first start with her other trilogy set in France of which ‘Labyrinth‘ is the first part.
This is book 6 for #20booksofsummer.
Have you read anything by Kate Mosse? What’s your favourite historical novel set in France?