A new category for my mateys! Though this log’s focus is on sci-fi, fantasy, and young adult, this Captain does have broader reading tastes. So occasionally I will share some novels that I enjoyed that are off the charts (a non sci-fi, fantasy, or young adult novel), as it were. To begin, here is a very good historical fiction:
the vatican princess: a novel of lucrezia borgia (C.W. Gortner)
One standard “non-standard for me” genre is historical fiction. While I love history by itself, I enjoy historical fiction for the blending of history and getting to feel like the historical characters are real people. I mean, I know many of the historical characters in historical fiction books were real people, as that is the point. But I like the idea of knowing what they may have thought about the strange circumstances they found themselves in – especially if it involves women’s perspectives.
One of the many time periods I find most interesting is Europe from the 1300s to the 1500s. Now at one point in my life, I wanted to know more about the Catholic Church’s history so I read a concise history of the catholic church by Thomas Bokenkotter. It is fascinating how some Popes acted back in the day. Mistresses, children, money, political wrangling, murder, etc. Some of the facts seem undisputable. Others like the story of Pope Joan – not so much (though I wish).
This novel deals with the children of Rodrigo Borgia a.k.a. Pope Alexander VI and is told from the point of view of his daughter, Lucrezia Borgia. It covers the period of her life from 1492 (about 12 years of age) until 1501 (before she married her 3rd husband). The Borgia’s were one truly dysfunctional family even though in the eyes of history, Lucrezia herself seems to have a lot of the mud flung at her. This version of course is a take on her side of events. It was a well written and fun foray into that time period of papal excess. Makes me extremely glad I was not a woman back in that time. I like being the Captain of my own future thank you very much.
Of course, this story addresses some of the myths of incest in the papal court concerning Lucrezia, so be forewarned that this is not really a pretty tale that ends well. But it does prove that history is sometimes stranger than fiction. I will likely read another historical fiction novel by this author . . . cause Catherine de Medici was awesome.
The author’s website has this to say about the novel:
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.
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