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. Read more...
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NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY "KIRKUS REVIEWS"
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 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. 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 around the Borgias, "Blood & Beauty" is a majestic novel that breathes life into this astonishing family and celebrates the raw power of history itself: compelling, complex and relentless.
Praise for "Blood & Beauty"
"The Machiavellian atmosphere--hedonism, lust, political intrigue--is magnetic. . . . Readers won't want the era of Borgia rule to end."
--"People" (four stars)
"Dunant transforms the blackhearted Borgias and the conniving courtiers and cardinals of Renaissance Europe into fully rounded characters, brimming with life and lust."
"--The New York Times Book Review"
"Like Hilary Mantel with her Cromwell trilogy, Sarah] Dunant has scaled new heights by refashioning mythic figures according to contemporary literary taste. 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 Miami Herald"
"Compelling female players have been a characteristic of Dunant's earlier novels, and this new offering is no exception. . . . The members of this close-knit family emerge as dynamic characters, flawed but sympathetic, filled with fear and longing."
"--The Seattle Times"
"Dazzling . . . a triumph on an epic scale . . . filled with rich detail and page-turning drama."
- ISBN-13: 9781400069293
- ISBN-10: 1400069297
- Publisher: Random House
- Publish Date: July 2013
- Page Count: 528
The Borgia family in full color
Sarah Dunant has visited the turbulent beauty of the Italian Renaissance before, in rich historical novels like The Birth of Venus. With Blood & Beauty, she returns to this fascinating era, but this time she’s trained her acute storytelling eye on real historical figures: one of Europe’s most infamous families, the Borgias.
Turning the lives of people who actually inhabit the pages of history into a compelling, dazzling fictional narrative is a new challenge for Dunant, but she rises to it beautifully. Filled with rich detail and page-turning drama, Blood & Beauty is an ambitious and bravura new work from a powerful voice in historical fiction.
Beginning with the election of Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia as Pope Alexander VI in 1492, Dunant charts 10 years of turbulent, romantic and often chaotic Borgia rule in Europe. As a Spanish clergyman surrounded by Italians, famous as much for his wealth and the love of his illegitimate children as for his statue in the church, Alexander knows he must be shrewd and smart if he is to bend Europe to his will. To satisfy his unceasing desire for power amid the ever-turbulent politics of a divided Italian peninsula, he turns to his two most famous children, the warrior Cesare and the charming Lucrezia, key to the future of his dynasty.
The most striking thing about Blood & Beauty is how unreservedly Dunant luxuriates in the pageantry and drama of the period. She labored to strip away some of the centuries’ worth of propaganda and rumors surrounding the Borgia family with this novel, and she succeeds in that, but she also never shies from draping the work in gorgeous prose. The bombast and the high stakes of this story come to vivid life with every word. It’s a refreshingly unrestrained treatment of the genre, and it makes the tale all the more engaging.
Perfect for readers who love danger, romance and lots of palace intrigue, Blood & Beauty is a triumph on an epic scale. Dunant takes us deep into this gorgeous but often deadly world, and we never want to leave. Lucky for us, the epilogue notes that she’s already planning another Borgia book.