Blood & Beauty

  • by Sarah Dunant
  • Narrated by Edoardo Ballerini
  • 17 hrs and 35 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The New York Times bestselling author of the acclaimed Italian Renaissance novels—The Birth of Venus, In the Company of the Courtesan, and Sacred Hearts—has an exceptional talent for breathing life into history. Now Sarah Dunant turns her discerning eye to one of the world’s most intriguing and infamous families—the Borgias—in an engrossing work of literary fiction.
By the end of the fifteenth century, the beauty and creativity of Italy is matched by its brutality and corruption, nowhere more than in Rome and inside the Church. When Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia buys his way into the papacy as Alexander VI, he is defined not just by his wealth or his passionate love for his illegitimate children, but by his blood: He is a Spanish Pope in a city run by Italians. If the Borgias are to triumph, this charismatic, consummate politician with a huge appetite for life, women, and power must use papacy and family—in particular, his eldest son, Cesare, and his daughter Lucrezia—in order to succeed.
Cesare, with a dazzlingly cold intelligence and an even colder soul, is his greatest—though increasingly unstable—weapon. Later immortalized in Machiavelli’s The Prince, he provides the energy and the muscle. Lucrezia, beloved by both men, is the prime dynastic tool. Twelve years old when the novel opens, hers is a journey through three marriages, and from childish innocence to painful experience, from pawn to political player.
Stripping away the myths around the Borgias, Blood & Beauty is a majestic novel that breathes life into this astonishing family and celebrates the raw power of history itself: compelling, complex and relentless.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Borgias Brought to Life

I found this historical novel about the Borgias fascinating. With all that has been written about them through the years, I feel that Ms. Dunant has done a wonderful job of making them come alive as real people. You feel the pain Lucretia feels as a young innocent who is manipulated by her father and brother. The arrogance and lust for power of Cesare and the corrupt and exploitive nature of the Pope in almost every aspect of his life except his love for his children . It was not a fast moving book but the fabulous narration of Mr. Ballerini kept me listening and wondering what would happen next! If you like Historical fiction I think you will find this book well written and researched
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- Taryn "Addicted to Audible!"

Start with Other Dunant Books

I was disappointed with this novel. I've read and loved several other books by Sarah Dunant, but this one didn't live up to the others. My feeling is that she got so involved with her research and wanting to retell the historical events from the point of view she had adopted, that she somehow forgot to create credible and fully formed characters. In wanting to present a more "balanced" view of the Borgias, who, based on recent historical research, appear not to have been the monsters they've been made out to be—indeed, the current thinking is they behaved in a way congruent with the times they lived in—the story seemed to me to lack the excitement and spice one would have expected from the title. Yes, there is murder and plenty of blood is spilled, but somehow all this seems to be at a remove, as seen from the eyes of a historian rather than a talented fiction writer. While her other books have all carried me away and made me want to follow the flow of her stories and live with the characters for a while, this one felt stiff and formulaic and frankly, rather boring in the end. I'm still giving it a decent rating because I'm a great lover of historical fiction and Dunant certainly did her homework in that sense, but this is not the book I would recommend to someone new to her writing.
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- Ilana "Audiobooks have literally changed my life. I now actually ENJOY doing mindless chores because they give me plenty of listening time!"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-16-2013
  • Publisher: Random House Audio