Monday, March 28, 2011
Sins of the House of Borgia is an epic historical fiction novel of the infamous Borgia family who rose to power in fifteenth century Italy. The story is narrated by a young Jewish girl named Esther who is forced to leave Spain when the Jews are expelled. She flees to her father in Italy who uses her for his own political advancement. He urges her to relinquish her Jewish faith and be baptized as a Catholic in order to place her as a lady in waiting for Lucrezia Borgia. Lucrezia stands as Esther’s godmother.
The illegitimate daughter of depraved Pope Alexander VI, Lucrezia Borgia’s court is one of decadence and secrets. Violante soon encounters the alluring and callous Cesare, Duke of Valentinois and Romagna, Lucrezia’s old brother, and falls desperately in love with him.
After a horse race, Cesare renames her Violante, breaker of promises. As the relationship with Cesare progresses, Violante relinquishes her virginity to him, which resulted in two unanticipated results - she becomes pregnant and contracts a dose of the pox.
The world has always been fascinated with the wickedly corrupt Borgia family and many books have been written about them. What makes this novel stand apart is that it is told through the eyes of an innocent Jewish woman trapped at the center of numerous intrigues. As a result of her connections to the Borgias, she is caught up in the family’s troubles, forfeits all family ties, and suffers great losses.
Sins of the House of Borgia is a riveting, scandalous historical fiction novel with shocking characters and an intricate plot. The book is rich in detail, the times brought to life skilfully and with accuracy. Sarah Bower skilfully draws her readers into the abundantly vivid world of Renaissance Italy. This opulently gratifying story immerses the reader into the rich lives of the characters. It is a dazzling, breathtaking read – one worth savouring, which I very much recommend.