Lucrezia Borgia and the Mother of Poisons Paperback – 30 Aug 2004
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Top customer reviews
I should start by saying that I know almost nothing about this historical period, so I am not sure how accurate it is from a historical point of view.
That said, I really enjoyed this book. It was a good mixture of historical detail, Court politics, murder and intrigue. Once you get past the convoluted names, the main characters are quite well drawn and the interplay between Lucrezia and her husband Alfonso was really enjoyable to read.
The masked Ball was also really enjoyable and I did feel as if I was there.
I've deducted one star, because I felt at times the novel was a little claustrphobic and I was longing for the action to take place somewhere other than Lucrezia's private rooms, but I think this is purely a personal preference.
A good read. Recommended.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
"Lucrezia Borgia and the Mother of Poisons" throws the character of Lucrezia Borgia into a grisly murder mystery in which she must discover the identity of the killer in order to clear her own name of the crime she was accused of commiting. With a baby on the way and mixed feelings about her husband, it is doubly hard for Lucrezia to keep up with her life at court, while at the same time playing detective.
One of the things I liked most about this novel was the fact that it *wasn't* a simple retelling of all the historical facts. I've said it many times before, but I'll say it again...this is *fiction*. If you're looking for nothing but historic facts composed into a vaguely fictional story, then this probably isn't the book for you. This novel has enough historic facts to appease the average reader, while at the same time taking what is known and turning it into something new and different. I like how the author, Roberta Gellis, was thinking a little outside the box when she chose to write a historical fiction murder mystery.
Bottom line: This is a great book, and I could hardly put it down. I enjoy mysteries, and I love historical fiction, so it was a real treat to stumble upon this novel that incorporates both! If you're a stickler for nothing but the facts, then go ahead and pass on reading this book. If you're not...then have a blast!
However Roberta Gellis has very neatly got around both of these problems. High born women were watched closely if there was no legitimate heir yet and Gellis does a great job of showing how she could have coped with a life I would describe as claustrophobic. She places the murder in the Duke's court but also within Lucrezia's sphere. She further keeps the cast to a manageable size by concentrating on a few trusted companions and servants and keeps the time period where the story occurs into a few days. Meanwhile there is a sense of urgency because there is always the fear that if she does not act fast her father or her brother might step in to solve her problem (and incidentally make it worse.)
This is a very pleasant read, although I do have to say that Lucrezia's relationship with her husband is a little-- well, peculiar, although it's not outside the bounds of possiblity.
While it has a satisfying ending there are some loose ends that hopefully will be tied in later books in this seris.
writing mysteries, romances or fantasy. She is also not an
author to be lightly taken up at will, for a pleasant few minutes. Her writing requires concentration and time.
Here she is starting on a new series featuring Lucrezia
Borgia and it is an engrossing opener. We are launched
directly into both the poisoning murder of one of her
ladies in waiting and her confusing, tentative relationship
with her husband Alfonso.
She realizes immediately that she must solve this murder,to
clear her name and be able to continue this new life that
she has found so much more pleasant than her former fraught
life in Rome.
There is a good deal of period detail that convincingly establishes the background, without becoming a history lecture.
The tortuous life of the Ferrara court is revealed through
the relationships between the characters. They all obviously have a life of their own, independant of the main plot.
Occasionally the dialogue is too wordy, the conversations sag to a too-distant point, but this does not distract permanently
from the story.
The relationship between the politically married couple, however, is far more fascinating and often I wanted the mystery to disappear, so that more would be revealed about Alfonso.
He is far more of an engrossing mystery to both the reader
and Lucrezia. The final paragraph scene between husband and wife is a dreadful teaser.
I shall definitely be reading the next installment - for just this reason.
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