Blood and Beauty

Blood and Beauty

The Borgias : A Novel

Book - 2013
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A visceral, epic novel that challenges what we know about history's most dynamic and maligned Renaissance family, the Borgias

Rooted in the energetic, brutal and corrupt world of 15th-century Italy, Blood and Beauty opens with Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia, clever and charismatic, buying his way to the Papal crown. In this he is not unusual. Neither is the fact that he has illegitimate children. What does mark him is his blood; he is a Spaniard in a country run by established Italian families. To thrive, even to survive, he must create his own dynasty using the papacy and his family as the building blocks of power. His son Cesare is his most brilliant pupil. Fearless and calculating (later immortalized in Machiavelli's The Prince), he provides the driving energy and the muscle. The Pope's daughter, Lucrezia, beloved by both men, is their marriage tool. Just twelve when the novel opens, she is to have one dynastic union annulled and a second--beloved--husband murdered by her own brother to make way for a third strategic marriage--all before the age of twenty. Hers is a journey from pawn to political player.

Using the high-wire tension of a political thriller, this portrait of power and its personal costs is the most thrilling family saga to come out of Italy since The Godfather. The Borgias emerge not as the poisoning sexual monsters of popular myth, but in all their ruthless determination and complex humanity.

Publisher: New York : Random House, c2013
ISBN: 9781443406444
Branch Call Number: DUN
Characteristics: 506 p. :,map, geneal. table ;,24 cm


From the critics

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Aug 03, 2020

With more than 260 Popes in the 2000 year history of the Roman Catholic Church (RCC), there's bound to be a bad one now and then. And although corruption exists perpetually with the rich and famous, Pope Alexander VI (PAVI) was undoubtedly the most corrupt of all the popes.
Rodrigo Borgia, PAVI, was the father of three sons and a daughter during the late Middle Ages in Italy. Even though abstinence is not actually required in the RCC, he was still an adulterer, another commonplace ritual back then. I'm surprised that not every man in that time had syphillus.
This book is full of revenge and marriages for political and geographical gain, rarely for love.
Dunant did her homework (bibliography is included) before writing this book. It is a book of fiction, although there's much historical fact as well. I don't know the difference here. As a practicing Catholic, I probably shouldn't have read it, but I like Dunants' writing. Guess I'll go to confession.

Jan 16, 2020

Set in Rome in 1492 as Rodrigo Borgia is elected as Pope Alexander VI. The story is a mix of politics (the family's increasing power in Italy) and family, especially the Pope's son, Caesar, and daughter, Lucretia. It is a little bit historical fiction as soap opera but enjoyable nonetheless.

Sep 14, 2017

The story is sweeping in its scope, almost too sweeping for a single volume - Lucrezia Borgia and her brother Cesare come to life amid love and sex, power and piety, politics and treachery in the high Renaissance papacy.

Jun 20, 2017

An interesting book. The author takes a more historical and a less scandalous portrayal of the Borgia family although there is still plenty of questionable behaviour for anyone let alone the Pope! It took me quite a while to get into the story but I finished feeling like I knew a lot more about this time period and particularly about the role women played. The sequel In The Name of The Family finishes the story well.

Feb 23, 2016

Blood and Beauty --- by --- Sarad Dunant.
This work fits neatly under the heading “Historical Fiction”. Set, for the most part, in fifteenth and sixteenth century Rome, it is the tale of that dysfunctional family, the Borgias. Rodrigo Borgia, the later Pope Alexander XI sires four children: the vile and scheming Cesare Borgia who is in large measure responsible for his clan’s dark reputation; the foppish Juan Borgia, married off in a dynastic union; Lucrezia Borgia, arguably the best known of the family, perhaps for her great beauty, perhaps because of her misfortune of having been married off to a series of rulers of Italian states in order to bolster the fortunes of Alexander`s papal states; and Jofre, perennially the baby of the family.
Dunant takes her history seriously injecting but one fictitious character not supported by the historical record into her work. How serious is Dunant about her history. So serious that she provides a bibliography.
Blood and Beauty is a book hard to put down. The main characters are well limned. The plot, of course, is utterly believable. Not a book to be passed by: it confirms my opinion: more of Dunant is worthwhile.

Jun 12, 2015

A different take on the Borgias. I can't wait for the next volume.

Jun 12, 2014

The style of this story was similar to a non-fiction book. It came across as quite factual though I do know that in many areas it was definitely not. The story was full of fictional ideas.

I like the Borgia family and know too much about the real history to be able to really enjoy a tale that wasn't factual.

Feb 15, 2014

Blood & Beauty. Oh, Blood & Beauty. This historical fiction is epic, filled with everything that is compelling, dramatic, and enthralling. Which is typical Sarah Dunant flair.

This book follows the Borgias, notorious Papal dynasty of the Italian Renaissance. It covers only about 20 years of their history, which leaves me hungering for the next book (this was written in 2012, and the author's note indicates the journey will continue).

It is brimming with political intrigue, family drama, machinations, love, jealousy...I could not stop reading it. And it's so well-developed that I pitied, then hated, then loved each character, by turns.

I recommend this for any and all fans of Sarah Dunant, historical fiction (especially Italian Renaissance), political intrigue, family dramas (especially in powerful families), and the rare occurrences of empowered women in patriarchal societies and their struggles and triumphs.

And for everyone else, too.

Sep 27, 2013

As always Sarah Dunant's language is rich and flows like poetry. This book is particularly dense, and like barb8571 says it is "harder to get into" than some of her other books. While I fell in love with Sarah's writing through her strong female leads, I'm thoroughly enjoying the masculine narrative and learning about the Alexander VI papacy.

Sep 19, 2013

Sept 2013

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