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Blood and Beauty: The Borgias; A Novelby Sarah Dunant
Synopses & 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.
“A brilliant portrait of a family whose blood runs ‘thick with ambition and determination’....The Machiavellian atmosphere — hedonism, lust, political intrigue — is magnetic. With so much drama, readers won’t want the era of Borgia rule to end.” People
“In Blood and Beauty, Dunant follows the path set by Hilary Mantel with Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies. 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.” The New York Times Book Review
“British author Sarah Dunant is the reigning queen of the historical novel set in Renaissance Italy....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.” Richmond Times-Dispatch
“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.” BookPage
About the Author
Sarah Dunant is the author of the international bestsellers The Birth of Venus, In the Company of the Courtesan, and Sacred Hearts, which have received major acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic. Her earlier novels include three Hannah Wolfe crime thrillers, as well as Snowstorms in a Hot Climate, Transgressions, and Mapping the Edge, all three of which are available as Random House Trade Paperbacks. She has two daughters and lives in London and Florence.
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