Blood & Beauty:
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 world’s most intriguing and infamous families—the Borgias—in an engrossing work of literary fiction.
“The Borgias are arguably the most intriguing and ruthless family in all of history, and Dunant brings them ravishingly, bristlingly to life…I was enthralled.”
—Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife
“Extensively researched and exquisitely written.”
—Melanie Benjamin, author of The Aviator’s Wife
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.
“Full of vivid detail and human pathos.”—Amanda Foreman, author of A World on Fire
“A work of a skilled historian and a masterful storyteller who makes the Borgias live and breathe their ambition and lust for life on every page. This is a literary feast!”—Eva Stachniak, author of The Winter Palace: A Novel of Catherine the Great
“[An] exquisite, seductive portrait…destined to become a classic.”—Anne Fortier, author of Juliet
“A masterpiece of biographical fiction, and likely her best novel yet.”—Sandra Gulland, author of The Josephine Bonaparte Trilogy
“A wonderful novel…history came to life.”—Mary Beard, historian and author of The Fires of Vesuvius: Pompeii Lost and Found
“A compelling, accurate history told as a sweeping story full of vivid characters.”—William E. Wallace, Distinguished Professor of Art History, Washington University in St. Louis