Blood & Beauty – A Novel of The Borgias
by Sarah Dunant
published by Thorndike Press
Is there a family in history more dazzling, dangerous and notorious than the Borgias?
A powerhouse of the Italian Renaissance, their very name epitomizes the ruthless politics and sexual corruption of the Papacy.
The father, Pope Alexander VI, a consummate politician and a man with a voracious appetite both as Cardinal and Pope.
The younger Juan, womanizer and thug, and their lovely sister, Lucretia, whose very name has become a byword for poison, incest and intrigue.
But how much of the history about this remarkable family is actually true, and how much distorted, filtered through the age old mechanisms of political spin, propaganda and gossip?
What if the truth, the real history, is even more challenging?
“Blood & Beauty: The Borgias” is an epic novel which sets out to capture the scope, the detail, the depth, the color and the complexity of this utterly fascinating family.
I love books based on historical figures. This gets my old history major juices flowing! Books like this and Dunant’s others-The Birth of Venus and In the Company of the Courtesan –based on history and set in Rome and Venice- are my guilty pleasures. I tried to watch The Borgias on Showtime, but I just couldn’t get behind the idea of Jeremy Irons as the Pope. I have always been interested in the Borgias and how they were portrayed, especially Lucrezia. . In many instances, they have come across as a family of sociopaths, interested only in sex and power. Scandal and the Borgia name have become synonymous. Rumors of incest and murder still hover around them all these years later. Dunant tempers this view. There is definitely the feeling that the Pope and his son Cesare care more about the power they amass than anything else, but that most powerful men of the time behaved the same way. Cardinals had mistresses and children, families married off children to further enhance their own power, and murder was not considered the ultimate sin. This book actually remedied me a little of The Game of Thrones, each character being just another piece on the chessboard. This is a well written, fun book and I would definitely recommend it.