"In a castle in the mountains outside Rome, Lucrezia Borgia is born into history's most notorious family. Her father, who is to become Pope Alexander VI, receives his daughter warmly, and her brothers, Cesare and Giovanni, are devoted to her. But on the corrupt and violent streets of the capital it is a very different story: the Borgia family is feared, and Lucrezia's father lives up to his reputation as 'the most carnal man of his age'." (From the cover of the Arrow Books edition.)
I was gushing just the other day about the ability to get Jean Plaidy reprints from Book Depository. Madonna of the Seven Hills was my first purchase from there, and I'm so glad I took the plunge! I've read Jean Plaidy a couple of times before, and I still feel that she is great for that dose of "history lite" that I find I so often want. The stories tend to move quickly but highlight the important people and events.
One of the best parts of reading this version of Lucrezia Borgia's life is that my memories of The Borgia Bride by Jeanne Kalogridis are so fresh in my mind. It was fascinating to compare how the two authors took the same set of facts and approached them in vastly different ways. For example, Kalogridis took the Borgia incest rumors head on, while Plaidy chose to portray the family as simply weirdly affectionate. They both agreed on the brutality of Cesare and Giovanni Boria and the corruption of Pope Alexander VI, but Plaidy hinted at it much more than blatantly showing their actions. Lucrezia's first pregnancy is told very differently in each book, but I believe the same man dies for it. (I can't check my Kalogridis book right now because a friend has it. Sorry!) Sanchia of Aragon, the heroine of The Borgia Bride, has a wildly different persona in Madonna of the Seven Hills. Both authors, however, cut Lucrezia some serious slack regarding her evil image. Now I'm wondering if she really was as bad as I've heard! Don't worry. I'll keep seeing what I can find out. :-)
Plaidy has split Lucrezia's story into two books, and I have Light on Lucrezia sitting right here to get to very, very soon. I already know how it ends, but it will be so much fun finding out how Ms. Plaidy gets there!
Lezlie can usually be found blogging at Books 'N Border Collies/