Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publication date: August 2010
Source: ARC provided by publisher
Francesca Giordano is the daughter of the poisoner for the powerful and corrupt Borgia, a cardinal in the Church in Rome during the 1400s. When her father is brutally murdered, she must fight to take his place as poisoner. Her purpose now is to avenge her father's death, but she is drawn into a much more deadly game involving a desperate struggle for power. Now she is in a race for her life and the lives of thousands of other innocent people.
Things I Liked:
The book certainly had the ability to keep you on the edge of your seat and guessing what will happen next. It calls to mind books like The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons by Dan Brown, but in a historical and somewhat more interesting setting. It is very well written, interweaving historical detail and action very well, for the most part. I loved Francesca and her weaknesses as well as her strengths. She was a real character to me - one stuck in the religious corruption and deceit that surrounded her, but was still able to make smart choices. There were several twists that kept your interest from waning during parts where the time period was described or poison was discussed in detail. I was also intrigued by her discussions of religion, particularly in a time when it seemed so difficult to believe in the rightness of the church when there was so much corruption. It definitely made me want to learn more about the Borgias and to keep reading the rest of the books she plans to write about them. It felt refreshing to read some Italian historical fiction rather than the typical English fare. Here are some favorite parts:
Should you visit Rome or be fortunate enough to reside within it, I recommend that you find occasion to rise early and observe how each new day transforms the city from the monochrome of night to the blushing hues that the sun draws from this remarkable stone. Later, you will see the colors deepen almost to purple before finally yielding late in the day to muted gold. It is said that Rome possesses the fairest palette of any city and I know of no reason to disagree. p 17 of ARC
You may mock my foolishness but for just an instant, there in the darkness on the brink of death, I was overwrought enough to think that I heard the Almighty and that He was not remotely what I had been taught. Far from the omniscient majesty before whom we must tremble in blind adoration, He sounded a caring, if somewhat exasperated shepherd who went in search of us, his straying flock. Of course, I know I was wrong. And yet I know no such thing. The thought lingers: Surely the God who created Heaven and Earth can speak through the mouth of a man? Indeed, how else would he speak to men? Or, for that matter, to one particular woman? p 178 of ARC
I was and I remain a doubter; it is my curse. Yet in that predawn world, I discovered a truth I had not suspected. Whether by my own desperate need or just perhaps by divine intervention acting even through so deeply flawed a man, I found comfort and meaning in the act of forgiveness. p 267 of ARCThings I Didn't Like:
The first half of the book was a bit bogged down by setting the scene. The historical details were less well integrated into the story during that section. It seemed a lot of it was just getting us ready for the rest of the story by letting us know what the time and place was like. While I found it interesting information, it did not flow well with the rest of the story. Some of Francesca's choices were quite stupid to me, but perhaps more in character for her. Mostly these were choices that didn't affect the rest of the story and were personal, so I overlooked them.
The White Queen or any other historical fiction books by Philippa Gregory
Reminded me of The Golden Web by Barbara Quick
BOOK CONTENT RATINGS:
not a lot in number, but some quite strong
she has plenty of interludes, not to mention the general corruptness of the time
a few situations, nothing described in great detail
Overall rating: ****
What time period do you crave historical fiction to be about?
If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage