Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Borgia Bride by Jeanne Kalogridis

The Borgia Bride: A NovelThe Borgia Bride gives us a story of beautiful Sancha of Aragon. She grows up as the natural daughter of the future King of Naples, Alfonso II among people who love her: her younger brother Alfonso, her mother Trusia and her grandfather, King Ferrante. Soon, she finds out that there is one person who does not care for her and who will do everything to spite her. That person is her father. When Sancha’s grandfather dies, her father marries Sancha off to Jofre Borgia, the youngest son of Pope Alexander VI, also known as Rodrigo Borgia. Jofre is a young, timid boy who grows up to be a timid man, so unlike his father and his siblings, Cesare and Lucrezia. Soon after the marriage, Sancha and Jofre are called to Rome to live with the pope and his family. Because of her beauty, Sancha stirs lust in her father-in-law, jealousy in her sister-in-law Lucrezia and what she thinks is love in her brother-in-law, Cesare.  She soon finds out what cruel and dangerous her new family is and that the rumors of incest, murder and evil are not rumors at all.

The Borgia dynasty is well-known and because of the tales of sexual passions, fables of poisoning of the opponents and incest, it will always remain one of the most infamous and talked about historical families. Ms. Kalogridis is without a doubt, the author who captured this period in history brilliantly. I appreciated that none of the major players in this story were fictional ones. It adds credence to the book and, for me, it is one of the main reasons I like historical fiction so much. Most importantly, the author managed to achieve what only the most skilled authors do: while not straying from the facts too much and adequately portraying true historical events, Jeanne made The Borgia Bride a fascinating work of fiction as well. There was absolutely nothing boring about it. Sancha is an intriguing woman, who has enough ability to scheme, to be strong and to even be cruel at times, in order to survive in the nest of vipers. She is painfully honest about her own shortcomings, especially about her love for treacherous Cesare Borgia. She loves him deeply despite his true nature and I think that is her biggest tragedy. Sancha does not linger however, she does whatever is necessary to stay alive and that’s what I admired about her the most.

But there is more complexity to The Borgia Bride. The secrets of Borgias come undone one by one and even though there are so many of the characters, I never got confused with who was who or who did what. The whole storyline was flawless and despite the 500 pages, it read so quickly I never even noticed that it would soon be finished. Jeanne Kalogridis is the author that will make any reader appreciate historical fiction. She weaves in period details, true facts and fiction so well that you get transported into her books’ world without even noticing and when you come out, that world stays with you for a long time.While I do realize that not everything in this book may be historically accurate, I still believe that many accurate historical facts are incorporated in there and this author really makes it fun to read historical fiction.