Monday, April 03, 2006
The Borgia Bride - Jeanne Kalogridis [March/06]
This is a novel that I had wanted for a very long time. I saw it at the store and something about it called to me, but it was still some time before I actually bought it. It was also one of the few times that I bought a book new. It is interesting that I bought it the same time as I bought Birth of Venus because they both cover the same time period in Italian history, just from different perspectives and The Borgia Bride seems to go farther into the future. In The Borgia Bride, the story is told from the perspective of Sancha of Aragon, daughter of the king of Aragon and his mistress. It starts from a time when she is very young and while it may not go into great detail, the reader knows for the most part up until she dies. It is her time while in the Borgia family that is of great importance to the novel.
The Borgia family, for those that do not know, is the popes family. At this particularly time, this particular Pope acknowledged his children and it is one of them that marries Sancha. The novel shows just how messy it was to be living in this household. There is Lucrezia, the Pope's daughter, who has had a very unhappy life. She has terrible luck with men and it seems that just when she gets happy, something happens to destroy it. When Sancha first comes to the house she does not like Lucrezia because she seems like a very spoiled girl that sours any relationships other people have with her family and thinks that what she wants she will always get. As Sancha learns more about Lucrezia, though, she begins to gain a respect for her that borders on friendship because there always seems to be a new problem that Lucrezia is in the middle of. It may not always be her fault, but it makes her look wrong because of it. I am interested in Lucrezia herself and actually bought two Jean Plaidy novels that speak of her life. I will be interested to see how Plaidy saw her life.
The Borgia Bride interweaves historical fact with fiction, so the characters included in the novel really did exist, and many of the things that happen in the novel really happened, but others are in dispute about their validity. Sancha had a terrible relationship with her father, he treated her terribly. It might be because he was scared of her because as we find out later in the novel, she was stronger than he was. The only person you really see Sancha care deeply about is her younger brother, and it is this relationship that people use to hurt her. Some very sad things happen in relation to her brother, which is unfortunate because he really did not do anything to deserve the treatment. He was a gentle, quiet person, he just ended up in the Borgia family by marrying Lucrezia.
This novel is not exactly for the weak of heart as there is incest in it, which is not everyone's cup of tea. I did not particularly like the incest, but you can have historical fact without the bad stuff, and I do not think it was done distastefully. This is a novel of a struggle of a young woman to find out where she belongs in this families vicious web and who she can trust. I do not regret paying full price for it.