Blood & Beauty

Blood & Beauty

The Borgias : A Novel

Book - 2013
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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."
Publisher: New York : Random House, 2013
Edition: First U.S. edition
ISBN: 9781400069293
Characteristics: 506 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Alternative Title: Blood and beauty


From Library Staff

When Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia buys his way into the papacy, he is defined not just by his wealth or 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, wom... Read More »

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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

Sep 12, 2013

started to read, so far isnt really catching my interest, im going to add this on my later shelf, i might check it out again and try again...might

Sep 07, 2013

really enjoyed this one but I'm a big fan of all thing Borgia! Can't wait for the sequel to come out.

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