Description (from cover):
‘The New York Times bestselling author of the acclaimed Italian Renaissance novels–The Birth of Venus, In the Company of the Courtesan, and Sacred Hearts–has an exceptional talent for breathing life into history. Now Sarah Dunant turns her discerning eye to one of [the] world’s most intriguing and infamous families–the Borgias–in an engrossing work of literary fiction.
By the end of the fifteenth century, the beauty and creativity of Rome are matched by its brutality and corruption. A Spanish clergyman in a city run by Italians, Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia has bought his way into the papacy as Alexander VI, defined by his wealth, his blood, and his love for his illegitimate children–in particular his eldest son, Cesare, and his daughter Lucrezia–whom he must manipulate in order to succeed. Cesare, with a dazzling cold intelligence and an even colder soul, is Rodrigo’s greatest–though increasingly unstable–weapon. Later immortalized in Machiavelli’s The Prince, he provides the energy and the muscle. Lucrezia, beloved by both men, is the prime dynastic tool. Twelve years old when the novel opens, hers is a journey through three marriages, and from childish innocence to painful experience, from pawn to political player.
Stripping away the myths that has accumulated around the Borgias, Blood and Beauty is a majestic novel that breaths life into this astonishing family and celebrates the raw power of history itself: compelling, complex, and relentless.’
My, how I love the Borgias. I love their bond as a family and their lust for power and the willingness to go to any lengths to get what they want. How can someone not love their notoriety and their unique place in history? Sarah Dunant writes a beautiful tale about the Borgias, featuring mainly Pope Alexander VI, Cesare and Lucrezia. After all, the are the most remarkable Borgias after all. The story begins with Lucrezia and Cesare as young adults and we follow them through trials and tribulations in their lives. The story ends abruptly, but a note from the author indicates that there will be a sequel. Which I find fabulous, because I really need to find out how this historical people lived the rest of the lives and what was the cause of their demises?
I am sure I can google it or look on the internet, but that takes all the pleasure of reading the sequel for me. I love to be surprised and cannot wait for the next installment to see how Lucrezia’s marriage into Ferrara goes and how long Cesare can get away with living life on the edge. There is a lot of hype surrounding this family and while it’s hard to know what is fact and what is fiction, Sarah Dunant does a fantastic job of exposing this family for exactly who they were. They were ruthless and let nothing get in their way. If you got in their way, well they got rid of you, just like that. Everyone loves the Tudors, but the Borgias are so much more interesting. They were scandalous and they used fear to get exactly what they wanted.
This book is a little long, but there is a lot of history to cover, so I can understand the need for it to be a longer novel. It comes in at 528 pages and is something as a reader you will need to read slowly to savor and enjoy the research and detail that the author poured into the writing of this book. Most definitely not a quick read, but enjoyable nonetheless for readers who want to learn more about one of the most infamous families of all times.
Overall Rating: 4
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Disclaimer: This book was given to me by the publisher, through Library Thing Early Reviewers program, in exchange for my honest review. I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.