Thursday, March 28, 2013

Jean Plaidy - Madonna of the Seven Hills

The most beautiful woman in Rome, Lucrezia Borgia, was born into a family—and a destiny—she could not hope to escape . . .
Fifteenth-century Rome: The Borgia family is on the rise. Lucrezia’s father, Pope Alexander VI, places his illegitimate daughter and her only brothers, Cesare, Giovanni, and Goffredo, in the jeweled splendor—and scandal—of his court. From the Pope’s affairs with adolescent girls to Cesare’s dangerous jealousy of anyone who inspires Lucrezia’s affections to the ominous birth of a child conceived in secret, no Borgia can elude infamy.

Young Lucrezia gradually accepts her fate as she comes to terms with the delicate nature of her relationships with her father and brothers. The unbreakable bond she shares with them both exhilarates and terrifies her as her innocence begins to fade. Soon she will understand that her family’s love pales next to their quest for power and that she herself is the greatest tool in their political arsenal. (from

I am normally the historical fiction fan that devours anything about the Tudor family. So when Showtime made the series about him and his wives, I was thrilled. Obviously it had to come to an end... I mean, the man couldn't stay alive to marry EVERY woman in England. But with the show off, I needed something to fill the void. Luckily, Showtime felt my pain and gave the world The Borgias. I admit, I knew nothing about them except that Lucrezia was supposedly one of the most sexually perverse women in history. I had to read about this woman and find out who she was before Showtime turned her life into something that borders on pornography...

Jean Plaidy, a personal favorite of mine, has created a world for Lucrezia that completely drew me in. She tells the story of Lucrezia's father becoming Pope. Papal history buffs will love the details about the election of the Borgia Pope. However, those who are reading solely for the courtly intrigue will not get too bogged down in the politics.

In my studying and reading about these Borgias to build some background knowledge before diving head first into Jean Plaidy's series, I found a lot of talk about an incestuous relationship between Lucrezia and her brother Cesare. There also were rumors about a similarly inappropriate relations between Lucrezia and her father, Pope Alexander. Plaidy hints at the relationships (especially with Cesare), but she paints Lucrezia as the victim who does what she can to spurn any true advances.

Whether you believe in the Borgia incest or not, no one can deny that they were indeed an interesting family. If you have good Borgia book suggestions - send them my way!