Monday, May 11, 2009

The Borgia Bride

Against the backdrop of 15th-century Italian internecine feuds, debauchery and Vatican corruption, Kalogridis's latest historical novel chronicles with compelling sweep the story of the ravishing and iron-willed Sancha de Aragon, princess of Naples. Illegitimate daughter to the coldhearted duke of Calabria (briefly king of Naples), she is used to establish ties to the feared and influential House of Borgia when her father betroths her to the younger scion, Jofre. Much to the dismay of her beloved younger brother Alfonso, Sancha is sent from Naples to rule with Prince Jofre in remote Squillace. War with the French will later briefly return her to Naples, but rumors of her beauty reach her lecherous father-in-law, Pope Alexander VI, who recalls her and Jofre to opulent Rome. There, she avoids the pope's advances-and her jealous sister-in-law Lucrezia's animosity-but falls into a steamy affair with her brother-in-law, the dashing Cesare, cardinal of Valencia. Cesare becomes furious when she refuses to leave Jofre, and he sets out on a warpath that includes her brother Alfonso, who has also married into the Borgia clan-to Lucrezia. Kalogridis spins a dramatic tale from a heady mix of royal power plays and passion.
Nathan says 4.5 stars...
So this book is entirely different than my usual fare. It's technically adult fiction, there is no inkling of magic involved, and it's vastly historical, but I was surprised to find that I absolutely loved this book. I've long-harbored a fascination with the Borgia family, and this book only fanned the flames higher. The characters are quality, the dialog is expressive and well-written, but Kalogridis really excels at narrative. Each nuance reveals characters and weaves a sumptuous undercurrent throughout the novel. The writing is well and truly beautiful. This book is a peek into a decadently lavish and wholly immoral world. With that, I would not recommend this book to younger readers, but older YA readers should be fine. If you like historical fiction, then this book is a necessary part of your collection.


Amelia said...

Sounds like a really interesting read! I love the cover.

Kate said...

This sounds quite interesting. Great review :)

Melanie said...

Oh! Historical fiction is definitely my thing! Thanks for the review!

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