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A different take on the historical novel,
This review is from: The Serpent and the Pearl (Novel of the Borgias) (Paperback)
This novel concerns the Borgias, specifically from the accession of Rodrigo Borgia as Pope Alexander VI to the initial stages of the French invasion. It is different in that it is written from the viewpoint of three characters, Giulia Farnese (concubine of the Borgia Pope), Leonello, a dwarf assigned by Cesare as bodyguard to Giulia and Carmelina, a cook with a secret. Each point of view is in the first person. I had my reservations about this but each character’s inner world is so well written that you, as reader, have no difficulty in head-hopping from one to the other. Each different POV is made clear before the scene by stating the name. Yes it works, but only because the writing is good and it is effortless to identify with each character.
What I also liked was that it dealt with the impact of courtly intrigue and politics on the lives of these three without being at all explicit about the machinations going on in the Vatican and elsewhere. As such, it felt completely authentic and I was impressed by the overall style. Most historical novels treat the known facts as the narrative and embroider them; this one is a different and refreshing take.
I thought the ending rather abrupt but there is, of course, a sequel! Actually more than one and I note that the three characters remain the same which is good to know. Recommended for lovers of historical fiction.