The Vatican Princess: A Novel of Lucrezia Borgia by C.W. Gortner
Publication Date: February 9, 2016
Hardcover, Ebook, Audiobook
Genre: Historical Fiction
Infamy is no accident. It is a poison in our blood. It is the price of being a Borgia.
Glamorous and predatory, the Borgias fascinated and terrorized 15th-century Renaissance Italy. 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, the new pope’s illegitimate children—his rival sons, Cesare and Juan, and beautiful young daughter Lucrezia—assume 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, he’s obliged 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—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.
The Vatican Princess by C.W. Gortner was a five star read right from the beginning. I was completely pulled into the time of the Borgias, and I loved every minute of it! I have read several historical fiction novels about the Borgias, and this is by far my favorite. I love that it’s told from Lucrezia’s point of view, rather than a secondary (or made up) historical figure. With the amount of research that the author obviously put into writing this novel, you can really allow yourself to believe that Lucrezia is truly telling the story, and that it is HER voice. Rather than portray Lucrezia as a ‘man-eater’, evil, or disdainful and conceited, as some other novels about the Borgias do, this novel shows her almost as a victim (though she's not weak) of a family who has controlled and mapped out her entire life. Her father has the power to give her happiness or to take it away, and her brothers are men used to getting what they want, even if it is forbidden. The power these men have over her life could have destroyed her, but she refused to let it. To me, this version of Lucrezia makes the most sense. The idea that she was a shrewd and vindictive woman who poisoned her enemies never felt right to me. I always envisioned her as a strong and intelligent female who was held back due to the era in which she lived. Through this novel I felt like I really was able to really get to ‘know’ the different members of her family as well Lucrezia. I must be honest though, in my mind as I was reading, I was picturing the actors from the Showtime series The Borgias!
Any fan of historical fiction will love this novel. I have read elsewhere that books about the Borgias are overdone recently, but I cannot agree. C.W. Gortner shows the Borgias through a fresh lens, and has created a novel that brings this fascinating family back to life. Five out of Five stars without a doubt!
"A spider web of Renaissance intrigue with a legendary cast . . . Impressive research, a lush background, and deft characterization make for a fascinating read." - Margaret George, New York Times bestselling author
"Elegantly written and deeply researched . . . Renaissance Italy is vividly brought to life. I’m captivated by this knowledgeable author’s take on the controversial Borgias." - Alison Weir, NYT bestselling author
About the Author
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