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Look Inside Reading Guide. Reading Guide. Jul 16, Minutes Buy. By the end of the fifteenth century, the beauty and creativity of Italy is matched by its brutality and corruption, nowhere more than in Rome and inside the Church. When Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia buys his way into the papacy as Alexander VI, he is defined not just by his wealth or his passionate love for his illegitimate children, but by his blood: He is a Spanish Pope in a city run by Italians.
If the Borgias are to triumph, this charismatic, consummate politician with a huge appetite for life, women, and power must use papacy and family—in particular, his eldest son, Cesare, and his daughter Lucrezia—in order to succeed.
Cesare, with a dazzlingly cold intelligence and an even colder soul, is his greatest—though increasingly unstable—weapon. 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.
Look for special features inside. This intellectually satisfying historical saga, which offers blood and beauty certainly, but brains too, is surely the best thing she has done to date.
The members of this close-knit family emerge as dynamic characters, flawed but sympathetic, filled with fear and longing. Her earlier novels include… More about Sarah Dunant. The Machiavellian atmosphere—hedonism, lust, political intrigue—is magnetic. Just as Mantel humanized and, to an extent, rehabilitated the brilliant, villainous Thomas Cromwell and the court of Henry VIII, Dunant transforms the blackhearted Borgias and the conniving courtiers and cardinals of Renaissance Europe into fully rounded characters, brimming with life and lust.
Dunant illuminates the darkened narrative of the Borgia record, reviving stained glass with fresh light, refreshing the brilliance of the gold and blue panes history has marred without dulling the blood-red that glows everywhere around them.
Like Hilary Mantel with her Cromwell trilogy, Dunant has scaled new heights by refashioning mythic figures according to contemporary literary taste. Although the Borgias are often called the most notorious family in Italian Renaissance. Dunant manages to show different facets of their personalities.
If history has left some blanks in this regard, Dunant fills them. The members of this close-knit family emerge as dynamic characters, flawed but sympathetic, filled with fear and longing, and believable.
This novel will be most rewarding for those with a keen taste for history and a willingness to stick with a lengthy story with no real heroes but plenty of fascinating and really bad behavior. She brings fifteenth-century Italian cities vividly alive. Everything was more fascinating in the olden days. The Borgias are arguably the most intriguing and ruthless family in all of history, and Dunant brings them ravishingly, bristlingly to life. The Borgias have never been so human, and so humanely portrayed.
Dunant opens a window into the extraordinary machinations and skullduggery of the Borgias and provides us with a richness of description that beautifully locates them in their own time. This exquisite, seductive portrait is destined to become a classic. With brilliant detail and flawless prose, she opens the doors to the Vatican of Pope Alexander VI Rodrigo Borgia , his vibrant feuding children, and his sultry mistress.
Part of me was happily lost in the time travel, and part of me was repeatedly struck by how vividly ancient Rome met modern Rome, and how the city of history came to life. Read An Excerpt. Add to Cart. Also available from:. Available from:. Paperback —. Audiobook Download. Also by Sarah Dunant. Product Details. Inspired by Your Browsing History. Related Articles. Looking for More Great Reads?
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Blood and Beauty
Sarah Dunant's Blood and Beauty , the fourth of her Italian historical novels and the initial instalment in what is planned to be a two-part saga, is her first since Mantel's colossal success. Dunant raises the curtain on Rodrigo Borgia's election as Pope Alexander VI in through the Borgias' trademark guile, charm and cruelty he has claimed for himself the most powerful position on earth. He also openly maintains a household of four illegitimate children by Vannozza dei Catanei — among them the infamous Lucrezia, still a child but already being haggled over by rival dynasties — and a new and beautiful mistress. But it is also the turbulent land of Savonarola and Machiavelli; the incubator of syphilis and the birthplace of the siege engine, an agglomeration of rival dukedoms, principalities and republics that encompasses some of the most viciously disputed territory in man's history. In the 10 years covered by Blood and Beauty , Borgia Rome has to negotiate with the armies of the French king Charles VIII, and the great ruling families of divided Italy — "a sack of spatting cats that has learned nothing from the past" — through diplomacy and marriage, poison and charm. At the same time, Alexander has to manage his own unruly household: treacherous servants, a dangerously passionate daughter, and wilful, warring sons, trained from birth to fight their way to power. From the outset Dunant takes possession of her sprawling, unwieldy material.
Blood and Beauty by Sarah Dunant – review
Look Inside Reading Guide. Reading Guide. Jul 16, Minutes Buy. By the end of the fifteenth century, the beauty and creativity of Italy is matched by its brutality and corruption, nowhere more than in Rome and inside the Church.