In Blood & Beauty, Dunant follows the path set by Hilary Mantel with Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies. Just as Mantel humanized and, to an extent, rehabilitated the brilliant, villainous Thomas Cromwell and the court of Henry VIII, Dunant transforms the blackhearted Borgias and the conniving courtiers and cardinals of Renaissance Europe into fully rounded characters, brimming with life and lust.... Dunant illuminates the darkened narrative of the Borgia record, reviving stained glass with fresh light, refreshing the brilliance of the gold and blue panes history has marred without dulling the blood-red that glows everywhere around them.”
Liesl Schillinger - New York Times Book Review
[Dunant’s] depiction of passionate people obsessed by the idea of a dynasty that will outlive them is not only intelligent and restrained but also lit by an affecting streak of lyricism. . . . Like Hilary Mantel with her Cromwell trilogy, Dunant has scaled new heights by refashioning mythic figures according to contemporary literary taste. This intellectually satisfying historical saga, which offers blood and beauty certainly, but brains too, is surely the best thing she has done to date.”
Hugely enjoyable....an old-fashioned rollercoaster of a story.... [Dunant] triumphs, like all good novelists...in a deft, shrewd, precise use of killer detail.
[Dunant] is in her element.... She brings fifteenth-century Italian cities vividly alive.... [Blood & Beauty] is an intelligent and passionate book that will no doubt thrill Borgia-lovers.”
Sunday Times (UK)
British author Sarah Dunant is the reigning queen of the historical novel set in Renaissance Italy.... This novel will be most rewarding for those with a keen taste for history and a willingness to stick with a lengthy story with no real heroes but plenty of fascinating and really bad behavior.
Another achievement for Dunant is her ability to re-imagine history. Although the Borgias are often called the most notorious family in Italian Renaissance . . . Dunant manages to show different facets of their personalities. If history has left some blanks in this regard, Dunant fills them. The members of this close-knit family emerge as dynamic characters, flawed but sympathetic, filled with fear and longing, and believable.”
A brilliant portrait of a family whose blood runs ‘thick with ambition and determination’ . . . The Machiavellian atmosphere—hedonism, lust, political intrigue—is magnetic. With so much drama, readers won’t want the era of Borgia rule to end. (Four stars.)"
Perfect for readers who love danger, romance and lots of palace intrigue, Blood & Beauty is a triumph on an epic scale. Dunant takes us deep into this gorgeous but often deadly world, and we never want to leave.
[A] highly dramatic period in papal, Italian, and even European history as the Borgia family—the pope and his bastard children, two sons and one daughter, unhidden as such—extend their influence well beyond the confines of ecclesiastical matters.... For those who find Hilary Mantel’s brilliant Tudor novels too deep and demanding, Dunant offers less rigorous, more comfortable historical fiction. —Brad Hooper
(Starred review.) The big, bad Borgia dynasty undergoes modern reconsideration in [Sarah Dunant’s] epic new biofiction.... Dunant’s biggest and best work to date, this intelligently readable account of formative events and monster players has Hilary Mantel–era quality best-seller stamped all over it.
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