I’ve said it time and time again, I tend not to read historical fiction because it normally ends up with me getting very, very angry over it. Now I have read some excellent historical fiction, most recently Hilary Mantel’s “Bring Up The Bodies” which I have yet to review, but in my experience the majority of these books are full of huge inaccuracies and are quite frankly rubbish. Now I’m always on the look out for historical fiction that I may enjoy and sometimes do indulge as a bit of guilty pleasure and when I came across “The Borgia Bride” by Jeanne Kalogridis I thought it looked interesting. So I downloaded it to my kindle and began to read.
I wish I hadn’t wasted my money.
From the outset I found it a chore to wade through a narrative that did not flow, the sentence structure was awful, the dialogue of the characters was wooden and if I am completely honest, I hated the main character which is a shame because historically Sancia of Naples is a very interesting character. She came across as really one dimensional and OK, so she fought off the Pope when he tried to grope her (in the story that is) but she seemed to fall head over heels in love with Cesare after setting eyes on him only once. Oh, and from what I read of Cesare in this book, he came across as too…too nice. Now then, I was barely able to get half way through this book before I deleted it from my kindle in utter disgust so I have no idea if the author made Cesare more…believable…than he is in the first part of the book and if I’m honest, I don’t care.
What I really hated about this book was the fact that the author decided to indulge in the whole incest rumour that haunted the Borgia family. I’ve written about my views on this over and over again and am firmly in the camp of “The Borgias were not incestuous”, and I have never ever seen a single shred of evidence that proves the rumours were true. I felt sick as I read a scene in which Sancia stood watching as Pope Alexander VI slept with his daughter Lucrezia. The scene wasn’t graphic, and I honestly don’t think the author would know how to write a decent sex scene anyway, but it was what was implied that turned my stomach. At that moment, I put the book down in a rage and vowed to never pick up a book by this author again.
If I’m honest this book may have put me off reading fiction about the Borgia family forever, even though I have heard that there are some very well written fiction books on the family. The thing that bugs me the most is that people these days still believe the incest rumours, and books like this do not help. In the same was that people believe Anne Boleyn had a sexual relationship with her brother thanks to Phillipa Gregory’s “The Other Boleyn Girl”, this book will only reinforce the public view that the Borgia family were depraved and enjoyed each others company far too much.
I really hate writing bad reviews of books and always try to give the author the benefit of the doubt but with this one I just can’t. If you are interested in the Borgia family I would recommend picking up a decent biography of them before even venturing into the fiction genre. And if you do fancy delving into the fiction of Renaissance Italy, then steer clear of this book.