Monday, March 14, 2016

The Vatican Princess by Christopher Gortner

For fans of Philippa Gregory and Alison Weir, bestselling author C. W. Gortner effortlessly weaves history and drama in this captivating novel about one of the world’s most notorious families. Glamorous and predatory, the Borgias fascinated and terrorized fifteenth-century Italy, and Lucrezia Borgia, beloved daughter of the pope, was at the center of the dynasty’s ambitions. Slandered as a heartless seductress who lured men to their doom, was she in fact the villainess of legend, or was she trapped in a familial web, forced to choose between loyalty and survival? With the ascension of the Spaniard Rodrigo Borgia as Pope Alexander VI, a new era has dawned in Rome. Benefitting from their father’s elevation are the new pope’s illegitimate children—his rival sons, Cesare and Juan, and beautiful young daughter Lucrezia—each of whom assumes an exalted position in the papal court. Privileged and adored, Lucrezia yearns to escape her childhood and play a part in her family’s fortunes. But Rome is seductive and dangerous: Alliances shift at a moment’s notice as Italy’s ruling dynasties strive to keep rivals at bay. As Lucrezia’s father faces challenges from all sides, the threat of a French invasion forces him to marry her off to a powerful adversary. But when she discovers the brutal truth behind her alliance, Lucrezia is plunged into a perilous gambit that will require all her wits, cunning, and guile. Escaping her marriage offers the chance of happiness with a passionate prince of Naples, yet as scandalous accusations of murder and incest build against her, menacing those she loves, Lucrezia must risk everything to overcome the lethal fate imposed upon her by her Borgia blood. Beautifully wrought, rich with fascinating historical detail, The Vatican Princess is the first novel to describe Lucrezia’s coming-of-age in her own voice. What results is a dramatic, vivid tale set in an era of savagery and unparalleled splendor, where enemies and allies can be one and the same, and where loyalty to family can ultimately be a curse.

Review:

Lucrezia Borgia continues to fascinate readers centuries after the Italian Renaissance. The scandals, sexual escapades, incest, failed marriages, murders, and intrigues from all members of the Borgia family and those closest to them seems almost too crazy to believe. How much is truth and how much is legend? Were they victims of slander by their enemies? Only the Borgias will ever truly know. As the doted upon bastard child of Pope Alexander VI, and younger sister to Cesare and Juan Borgia, and because of her great beauty, she easily became prey to the political aspirations of her male relatives. In the recently released novel, THE VATICAN PRINCESS, author Christopher Gortner writes a rich first person narrative about Lucrezia’s life whereby he truly brings to vibrant life all the colors of the Italian Renaissance. In Gortner’s version of Lucrezia and her family, we read a tamer version of the legendary events that framed her life. He strongly portrays her as a good, much maligned heroine while painting the her father and brothers in a very dark light. His novel ends before Lucrezia’s third marriage to Alfonso d’Este, the Duke of Ferrara. Even though the book does not encompass her entire life and cover all the intrigues that swirled about her and her family, I did enjoy Gornter’s version of her life. Lovely, flowing, first person prose with vivid descriptions of fashion and surrounds held my fascination to the end. Not my favourite novel about Lucrezia’s life, but a very good one! 


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