C. W. Gortner always delivers a well-written and well-researched novel about historical figures and “The Vatican Princess” proves another success. Looking at the often maligned Lucrezia Borgia, Gortner delves into the history of this young woman who was a pawn to her family’s machinations. Daughter to Rodrigo Borgia, Lucrezia’s life changes when he becomes Pope Alexander VI. His illegitimate children quickly benefit from their father’s elevation. While her brothers connive and intrigue against each other, Lucrezia is married off to help cement alliances. But she soon discovers that the rapidly changing currents beneath the murky waters of Papal political maneuverings may drag her under. When Lucrezia discovers that her greatest dangers come not from outsiders but her own family, she must decide how to try to save not only herself but those she loves.
Gortner’s “The Vatican Princess” is filled with richly detailed historical facts weaved with actual and fictional characters, combining to create a novel that brings a savage and fascinating period of history alive. Fans of Margaret George and Alison Weir will want to add C. W. Gortner to their must read lists. As always, after finishing his book I’m interested in learning more about an overlooked historical figure.
For fans of Philippa Gregory and Alison Weir, bestselling author C. W. Gortner effortlessly weaves history and drama in this captivating novel about one of the world’s most notorious families. Glamorous and predatory, the Borgias fascinated and terrorized fifteenth-century Renaissance Italy, and Lucrezia Borgia, beloved daughter of the pope, was at the center of the dynasty’s ambitions. Slandered as a heartless seductress who lured men to their doom, was she in fact the villainess of legend, or was she trapped in a familial web, forced to choose between loyalty and survival?
With the ascension of the Spaniard Rodrigo Borgia as Pope Alexander VI, a new era has dawned in Rome. Benefitting from their father’s elevation are the new pope’s illegitimate children—his rival sons, Cesare and Juan, and beautiful young daughter Lucrezia—each of whom assumes an exalted position in the papal court. Privileged and adored, Lucrezia yearns to escape her childhood and play a part in her family’s fortunes. But Rome is seductive and dangerous: Alliances shift at a moment’s notice as Italy’s ruling dynasties strive to keep rivals at bay. As Lucrezia’s father faces challenges from all sides, the threat of a French invasion forces him to marry her off to a powerful adversary. But when she discovers the brutal truth behind her alliance, Lucrezia is plunged into a perilous gambit that will require all her wits, cunning, and guile. Escaping her marriage offers the chance of happiness with a passionate prince of Naples, yet as scandalous accusations of murder and incest build against her, menacing those she loves, Lucrezia must risk everything to overcome the lethal fate imposed upon her by her Borgia blood.
Beautifully wrought, rich with fascinating historical detail, The Vatican Princess is the first novel to describe Lucrezia’s coming-of-age in her own voice. What results is a dramatic, vivid tale set in an era of savagery and unparalleled splendor, where enemies and allies can be one and the same, and where loyalty to family can ultimately be a curse.