book reviews by Althea

The Vatican Princess: A Novel of Lucrezia Borgia – C.W. Gortner ***

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The Vatican Princess: A Novel of Lucrezia Borgia
The Vatican Princess: A Novel of Lucrezia Borgia by C.W. Gortner
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Delivered, as expected, a tale of the Borgias, focusing on Lucrezia, following her character from an innocent girl of around age 12 to a mature woman. Lucrezia here is in line with the current idea of the historical character, (rather than the conniving poisoner I grew up with). She’ll be somewhat familiar to watchers of TV’s ‘The Borgias.’ Perhaps the book also seemed quite familiar to me as I read this one, which covers much of the same territory, not too long ago:… But a bit of familiarity is bound to come with historical fiction.

It’s true that history indicates that the worst crimes ascribed to Lucrezia Borgia were most likely scurrilous rumors spread by her family’s enemies, but the character here is a bit TOO good-hearted and innocent. The author really draws a line, making Lucrezia and her second husband Alfonso the ‘good guys’ and pretty much everyone else the ‘bad guys.’ At many points in the book, I really wanted Lucrezia to at least hold her own in Renaissance politics, rather than just being an unwitting pawn who never seems to know what’s going on around her. There’s also one rather-shocking scene which feels a little out-of-tune with the rest of the book. It made me wish that either the whole book was racier (I like racier), or that it had been toned down.

Still, if this is a time period you’re interested in, the book’s not bad at all.

Many thanks to NetGalley and Ballantine for the opportunity to read. As always, my opinions are solely my own.

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