Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Blood and Beauty: The Borgias by Sarah Dunant

Blood and Beauty is the Borgia's as only historical fiction writer Sarah Dunant can capture them in all their majesty and glorious infamy. From the passionate Spanish Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia also known as Pope Alexander VI,(who isn't anything like Showtime's svelte Jeremy Irons), to son Cesare - the unwilling churchman and soon to be youngest Cardinal, to the innocent  Lucrezia who will be offered as a marital prize and of course the Pope's favorite son - the hard fighting, carouser  Juan. Rome is a place of intrigue, where Cardinals cavort openly with their mistresses, the Vatican isn't just a church it is more a den of vipers where the competition is to get rich, grab power, make allies and get rid of your enemies - one way or another. 

Italy in the Renaissance was  not as it is today - it was ruled by families who oversaw great wealth in their city/states - Florence, Naples, Milan, etc. It was a constant struggle for power and dominance. And into the mix the Spanish Cardinal began his rule as Pope - pressing forward his family (illegitimate though his children were - his elevation as Pope made them acceptable marriage partners in many eyes as favors were often needed from the the Mother-Church where Alexander VI now ruled). 

I'm a big fan of Sarah Dunant's writing so I was pleased to receive this early reviewer's copy of her book. It is  interesting and tended to be much less shocking than previous books I've read about the Borgias'. It humanized them and brought life to the often  cardboard villains they have been at the hands of lesser writers. I have to admit in my mind, however, even though her physical descriptions of the Borgias' were different, in my head, the actor's from the Showtime series still managed to stick in my head. Guess I am ready for Season 3. 

I hope that Dunant plans a follow up to this book since there are so many things that she couldn't cover about them in this book. Her writing makes you want to keep reading - so here is my plea - please write a sequel! This is one of those families that cries out for their story to be told with all the historical facts woven into a story for reader's of fiction.