Thursday, July 10, 2014

Blood and Beauty by Sarah Dunant

The Borgias for all the blood shed, the brutality and overwhelming  corruption that characterised them continue to fascinate and so it is with Sarah Dunants wonderful novelisation of their reign of terror that culminated in Rodrigo Borgia becoming Pope in 1492 and continued on unabated until murder and disease had carried them away.
The Borgias could be described as our 1st power family and boy did they use it, nothing and no one got in their way and nothing was forbidden to them, morality existed only to keep others in line and as a judgement call against those who had crossed them or not.....
Life was cheap, marriage meant nothing and the fact that Rodrigos  daughter loved you was enough to see your life ended in a heartbeat; Sister loving Brother, Brother hating Brother, Father loving Daughter, all unhealthily but all perfectly OK if you were a Borgia.
Brilliantly written, this tale with twists and turns aplenty is fast paced, engaging and full of detail, not all of it historically accurate but with enough little nuggets to keep it real and believable, these were not every day times and the usual rules didn't apply. Dunants characters are wonderfully drawn, it isn't hard to visualise them at all, they develop and change as the story moves along and while most are not loveable, a drip of sympathy for their evolving plights can with a little effort be allowed.
One of the things that stood out for me was Dunants descriptions of the places that are the settings for her story, they are just magnificent and left me with a very clear visual to focus on, not only could you see but you could smell, you could almost touch.
An excellent rendering of what might have been, layered with fact and delivered as a novel, I don't think the reality would have been much different.
This is the modern way of delivering history and this is a 1st class example of how to reach way back in time and make it real for the techno savvy modern reader.
Available in paperback and via the Library System.

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