Monday, July 29, 2013

A Gift from Sarah Dunant

Finally!  A new book from Sarah Dunant.  Ironically, the Borgias popped up during our last book discussion meeting.  There's your proof that we really do discuss wildly significant issues like the papacy.  If I recall correctly, the topic came up when someone pitched reading Pope Joan.  Even though we selected Night by Elie Wiesel, we talked about the evolution of the role of Pope.  One of our members is a history major, and another is a history junkie, so together, they provided us with a many intriguing details.

How ironic, then, when a sample of Dunants' new book arrived.  Although I tend to read one book by an author and move on, I have read her Birth of Venus and In the Company of a Courtesan.  

Blood & Beauty begins at the end of the 15th century, a time when Italy's history was polarized by a surge in beauty and creativity as well as brutality and corruption.  When Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia buys his way into the papacy as Alexander VI, he is  by  his wealth, his love for his illegitimate children and by his bloodline.  You see, he is a Spanish Pope in an Italian city.  He decides that he must use his charismatic family in order to succeed in his purchased role.  

Years ago, I read Machiavelli's The Prince.  Must have been have required reading.  I recall doing it.  I recall turning pages, but I don't recall much else except that it is considered one of the most influential books ever written.  Now I have a frame of reference.  It was written about Borgia's eldest son, Cesare who was coolly intelligent and even colder hearted.

That's about as far as I am.  The next pages will introduce Lucrezia Borgia, another name that is frequently referenced, and now I will have context for those references as well.  Look out Trivial Pursuit competitors, I coming for you armed with my new knowledge of the Borgia empire.

Thanks for stopping by.