Blood and Beauty: The Borgias; A Novel

Blood and Beauty: The Borgias; A Novel

Sarah Dunant

Language: English

Pages: 544

ISBN: 0812981618

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


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.

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“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.”
“The Machiavellian atmosphere—hedonism, lust, political intrigue—is magnetic. . . . Readers won’t want the era of Borgia rule to end.”
People (four stars)

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challenge. The household is still unpacking, flinging open windows and doors to ventilate the stifling chambers, when Lucrezia welcomes the dignitaries of the town and starts taking petitions and hearing complaints. She can do this. She is a Borgia. Chapter 42 THE ARCHER’S UPPER ARM TREMBLES WITH THE STRETCH OF THE bow. The arrow, a high whine of wind, hits the great horse’s left ear full on, shattering it on impact. The shot is greeted with a howl of approval, then one of derision as

scent of sweat, and something else, something stale, putrid almost. A duchess without her perfume bottles is no sweeter than a common whore. The idea excites him intensely. How could it not? He rips away the remainder of the cloth and her bodice and chemise rip with it, freeing her breasts, which, just as he imagined, fall full and pendulous. She cries out, pulling up her hands to cover herself, she who has gone half naked to the world when it suits her. How dare she? Now he hits her, the back

prisoner’? Or maybe I could rent her out for a couple of nights, raise a few hundred ducats that way. I’m sure we would get enough takers.” D’Alegre laughs. “Oh, Duke, you are a man of sublime wit. It is no surprise that our king is so very fond of you. But, of course, you will remember that you ’ave not paid us for the lady yet.” … manners of pigs and the morals of money lenders. French scum, all of them!” The plates and goblets at the dinner table chatter under the weight of Alexander’s

defend myself when threatened.” He drops to his knees before the Pope. “If you had known—had been a party to it—that would have made you guilty too. As it is, I carry his death on my shoulders. If what I did abused your authority, then I ask your forgiveness.” Alexander puts a hand on this handsome head of hair. What is it that he feels? Does he doubt his son’s word? Surely he must. But if so, it is a fleeting thought. The madness of hot blood, vendettas, the superhuman strength of a wounded but

country to cheer him up. But mostly we shall hold court together in the great salon. Aunt Adriana will bring in the visitors and break the seal on the letters, yes? And then you and I will read them and assess each one for its worth. And those we think are worthy we will present their suits to Papà when he comes and he will congratulate us on our judgment, as his domestic ambassadors.” And all three women are laughing, because the last few days their nerves have been pulled as tight as garroting

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