I still didn’t really know what to think about this book for a few days after finishing it. Finally, I realized my lack of opinion on Blood & Beauty wasn’t because I hadn’t made up my mind, rather it was actually how I felt about it. Blood & Beauty is written well enough – many events and locations are vividly described. But the characters – their beliefs, desires, and motivations – fall flat. Some are depicted too simply – I can’t imagine a person being so pure and goodhearted as Lucrezia, or a man being so cold and cruel as Cesare. In fact, sometimes their behavior betrays Sarah Dunant’s illustration of these people: Lucrezia’s affair demonstrates that she is much more complex than she was depicted. I wish Sarah Dunant injected her characters with more ambiguity in their personality. After all, this is historical fiction – she should have had the agency to allocate motivations – and hesitations – for their actions.
I wasn’t a fan of the cover art – like the characters, I thought it was a little bit one-dimensional. I didn’t appreciate that there were barely any dates throughout the novel. It was hard to tell how much time passed between one event and the next. At times I found the book a page-turner, but to be honest, it was because I am not familiar with the Borgias so I didn’t know what would be happening next.
Title: Blood and Beauty
Author: Sarah Dunant
Publisher, year: Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2014
Chic rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆