Small pieces of paper fluttered down on the people massed in the piazza before the Sistine Chapel. Twelve-year-old Lucrezia heard her aunt read one aloud “We have for our Pope, Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia of Valencia, known as Alexander Sixth”. Lucrezia wanted to laugh aloud, for Papa had triumphed. Lucrezia Borgia . . . the name personifies evil; a seductive woman who schemed and poisoned her way through life. But this novel presents a different woman. Yes, she is the daughter of a Pope, and yes she is self-centered. But she emerges as a young woman whose only value was as a pawn in negotiations, a young woman whose happiness was never considered, a young woman determined to survive in spite of every obstacle.
The book is well researched. The author tried to stay with established facts, and where sources differ chose the path he deemed most likely. It’s full of complex characters and historical details that draw the reader in. My only complaint is that it stopped too soon, when Lucrezia was only 22. The short afterword summarized the rest of Lucrezia’s life, and the final seventeen years seem to be filled with enough drama to fill another book. I hope that will happen.
eGalley review Publication date 2.9.16