121 of 122 people found the following review helpful
on 5 April 2005
I started this book first thing one morning and before I knew it it was 4pm and I was nearing the end!!!! Yes, it really is one of those books that you can't physically put down. The Borgia Bride tells the story of Sancha of Aragon who married into the Borgia family by way of Jofre Borgia. She left her native Naples and ended up in Rome living alongside the famous Borgia clan comprising Rodrigo Borgia (Pope Alexander IV), the infamous Lucrezia Borgia, as well as her husbands brothers, Cesare and Juan who were both to take parts in her life. The authors portrayal of each and every character is incredible and you can really see the settings in your mind's eye. The story really goes full steam ahead when Sancha falls passionately in love with Cesare Borgia, a man she believes is perfect but unfortunately for her, her initial beliefs could not be further from the truth!!! It is in fact the author's portrayal of Lucrezia Borgia which I particularly liked, instead of portraying her as the black widow and evil woman she is usually portrayed as, Lucrezia is shown to be at times simply a political and sexual puppet for her father and brother Cesare. The plot is heart wrenching, gut wrenching, and at times so full of suspense you will find yourself holding your breath. An amazing must read book!!
63 of 66 people found the following review helpful
on 25 July 2006
I was looking forward to reading this but admit to being a little disappointed in this book. It charts part of the life of Sanchia of Aragon, the illegitimate princess of Naples who married into the notorious Borgia family. It brings to life the scandalous nature of the Borgias, particularly the alleged incestuous relationship between Lucrezia and her father Alexander VI and her brother (and Sanchia's lover) Cesare Borgia. However, the author has chosen to ignore some of the more scandalous facets to Sanchia's character, such as the alleged number of her pre-marital affairs, limiting these to one, and suggests that the only extra-martial love affair was with Cesare Borgia. Sanchia is not as politically scheming as she has been described, although it is pleasant for the protangonist to be someone other than a Borgia in a work of fiction about them. However, this is essentially the problem; the novel is supposed to be about Sanchia but it is actually about the Borgias. This is reinforced when the book ends prematurely (at the fall of the Borgias) and does not detail the remaining years of Sanchia's life, save a brief mention in a postscript to the novel. This feels unsatisfactory as throughout the novel the drama unfolds through Sanchia's eyes but there is no real sense of what Sanchia's conclusion is. It is a well paced and dramatic novel and is very easy to read - I finished it in a couple of days. However, as the book purports to tell Sanchia's story in her own voice, I anticipated a greater attempt to explain her reactions and emotions to the events as they unfolded. Sanchia's love for her younger brother is well developed, but her initial love / lust for Cesare is relatively unexplained and her sudden switching to hate for him lacks the sort of heartache I expected. Overall I would recommend reading this as it is an easy, pleasant read and anyone who enjoys historical fiction will like this a lot.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 8 December 2007
I picked up this book on the basis of a lot of positive reviews and have rarely been so underwhelmed, despite the fact that this is a period of history and a set of characters which I find particularly fascinating.
The author is presented with a fantastic readymade story, and somehow fails to make a compelling novel out of. The best part of the book was the prologue, which doesn't even gel with the story in retrospect. The main character is a cardboard cut-out of a modern woman in Renaissance Italy. The author seems unsure who her villains are from one chapter to the next. I'm all in favour of complex characters, but characters whose motivations and behaviour seem to conflict and contradict one another are confused rather than complex. I would be unlikely to read this author again.
31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
If you like Phillipa Gregory - with a mix of sex, murder and politics - this is the book for you. Even if historical fiction is not generally your cup of tea, this book will keep you captivated.
The Borgias had always fascinated me with the sensational and often gruesome traces they had left in history - and none more so than Cesare Borgia. That is why I had picked up this book, hoping to gain a deeper understanding of Cesare and the rest of his family from a fiction perspective. I must say that overall, I was not disappointed. As can be seen from the afterword, the author had done her research very well. The Borgias are an enigmatic family - there is little known about the dynasty, save for the few scandalous facts which the author had used to create her scandalous story.
From the beginning the novel was mesmerising; compelling the reader to blindly keep turning the pages even through the night (I had managed to finish the novel in 2 days in between school) - finishing with a gripping finale. The atmosphere the author had built up sucks you in, succeeding in transporting you back to 16th century Italy.
However, I did knock off one star because of the few things that nagged me throughout the novel. First, the explicit sex scenes - though it adds to the whole 'sensational' aspect of the story it was altogether too graphic and degraded the novel. For this reason I cannot readily recommend the book to others as the sexual references can be downright embarrassing. Some parts of the novel I felt were distinctly mediocre, reading like a Hollywood melodrama or elaborate erotica.
Another point was the lack of buildup between Cesare and Sancha - after waiting pages and pages for Cesare to appear, they fall too quickly into love. Sex alone is not the same without the romantic tension, the chase etc that makes a juicy love story. Similarly, Sancha falls too quickly out of love - I had expected more heartaches, dramatic dilemmas and basically for it to be much more convincing. Without their love affair being truly believable, the rest of the story did not really catch on.
But I am pleased with the book, overall, and it inspires you to find out everything you can about the Borgias and the House of Aragon.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 4 June 2012
I bought this book as I was interested in the wife of Jofre Borgia, Sancha/Sancia and the stories about her whilst being married into the Borgia family, and what people's take on her was. It's an enjoyable read, light and not too emotionally draining, however even though everyone likes to believe the Borgias were incestuous, they were not. I like it when authors and film makers play up to this aspect of their mythology or hint at it (like in the tv show "The Borgias") but ultimately, they are not concrete facts. The author, in the Afterword states that Giovanni Borgia (Roman Ifante) was actually Cesare and Lucrezia's child, when there is no evidence of this. Nor is their evidence for Lucrezia being incestuous with Alexander NOR is there any evidence that Cesare himself killed Juan (though that fact is probably true). It's fun to dramatise historical events and figures, but the author failed to actually say "no one actually knows" because, no one does.
Thanks for the read Miss Kalogridis, but next time try not to make soap opera plots fact.
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on 2 December 2006
The Borgia Bride charts the life of Sancha of Aragon, as she is married to Jofre, the supposed son of the Pope. An affair with Jofre's brother, Cesare, soon starts and Sancha becomes an integral part of the Borgia's problems. Murder and incest are two key themes within the book - Lucrezia Borgia (Jofre's sister) having an affair with both her father, the Pope, and her Brother, Cesare. As Cesare, the man Sancha thought she knew and loved, becomes more obsessive, determined and brutal Sancha has to work out how she will survive in this corrupt world.
Sexy, well-written, with intriguing characters and ideas. Not necessarily entirely accurate, but provoked interest in the family and period which will have you itching to jump onto the 'net and find out more.
A great book for getting you to relax in the evening.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 22 August 2007
I am a huge Phillippa Gregory fan, and picked this book up to try a new author in the historical fiction genre, though i wasn't sure if would be particularly interested in Italian history, as i have little knowledge of it but thought i would give it a go. I found the book to be unput-downable, very sensual and interesting from start to finish. As i said, i haven't a great knowledge of Italian History so can't really comment on the historical accuracy, but i did thoroughly enjoy the book. The characters were well developed and diverse, the storyline often unpredictable and at times rather shocking. I would definately recommend this novel.
on 9 April 2014
I found this by chance, sheer chance, because I was underwhelmed by Katie Quinn's latest Borgia epic - and it was recommended.
Hoorah. This is one of those writers you seldom hear of but churns out a readable tale. I was sorry when it ended. Mind you, that might be because I scream with fury at the sheer number of books that are published with no pace and no thought to engaging a reader. And they are, dear editors out there, they are.
Look, it isn't great literature. It is in that IRRITATING first person so beloved of writers that is sloppy and just too easy to write in.
I did struggle for the first chapter as it was, frankly, slow. I can't see that that chapter would have got this past a submissions committee. But then it took me away...
I knew nothing about the career woman of her day: Sancha. We all know plenty about the Borgias. So the story came as a surprise. It was sex and guts and gore. But you know the pages kept turning and you cheer the heroine on. She's really rather Joan Crawford. Quite unreal. Quite unlikely any women of that age would behave like this. But does it matter?
You'll enjoy the depiction of golden Rome and the Vatican Palace. I hope so.
Sad when it ended and you can't say more than that. I'll buy this writer again.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 16 January 2013
Explicit sex, attempted rape, jealousy,violence, hypocrisy, simony, betrayal, theft, and oh yes, a bit of courage and brotherly love thrown in; and I only got one-third of the way through! If you like all these things you'll love this book. Me, I'll stick to The Number One Ladies' Detective Agency!
on 2 February 2015
Great book about the back story of two powerful families during the Renaissance. Everyone knows the infamous Borgia's, children of Pope Alexander. Ambitious and filled with their own self worth, how much do we know about many of the spouses caught up in their political machinations. Sancha of Aragon and her brother Alfonzo are married to two of the Borgia siblings and their fate is sealed in history. Sancha's home is just as crazy as the Borgia household, her grandfather disposes, then stuffs messengers and displays them in a chamber of horror as a power play (true story). However, she is unprepared for the impact of Borgia charm ( Ceaser) and fall victim along with her brother to their brand of terrorism. A fascinating read, Lucretia is shown more as a victim than as a serial poisoner. When you get weary of reading about the Tudor's, you will find this an interesting change.