Madonna of the Seven Hills by Jean Plaidy
Synopsis: Fifteenth-century Rome: The Borgia family is on the rise. Lucrezia’s father, Pope Alexander VI, places his illegitimate daughter and her only brothers, Cesare, Giovanni, and Goffredo, in the jeweled splendor—and scandal—of his court. From the Pope’s affairs with adolescent girls to Cesare’s dangerous jealousy of anyone who inspires Lucrezia’s affections to the ominous birth of a child conceived in secret, no Borgia can elude infamy.
Young Lucrezia gradually accepts her fate as she comes to terms with the delicate nature of her relationships with her father and brothers. The unbreakable bond she shares with them both exhilarates and terrifies her as her innocence begins to fade. Soon she will understand that her family’s love pales next to their quest for power and that she herself is the greatest tool in their political arsenal.
From the inimitable pen of Jean Plaidy, this family’s epic legend is replete with passion, intrigue, and murder—and it’s only the beginning.
My Review: I didn’t know much about the Borgia’s before reading this, and I had such a great time learning about them as I was reading this! Just like any other book by Plaidy, you can always count on her to tell a story in such an interesting way that you don’t even realize it’s based on history.
The Borgia’s are such an interesting family, I loved the dynamic Plaidy portrayed between the brothers and Lucrezia, as well as their father, who loves them more than anything in the world. Alexander is just as conniving as any King you’ve read about in any historical piece, politicking his way to the top of the Church and placing his children in strategic positions both in the church and around the rest of Italy.
Poor Lucrezia is stuck in the middle of everything, a pawn in everyone’s game, used for whatever suits Alexander and to a lesser extent, her brothers. It makes me feel so bad for all the women during this time period, they have so little choice and get lucky every now and then to have an understanding husband once they’re married. Lucrezia is lucky to have a father who protects her from everyone but her own family, which is both good and bad considering how manipulative her brothers can be.
I really enjoyed this story and since it’s the first of a two books about the Borgias, I’ll definitely be reading the second one. I think this is a great introduction to the Borgia family, shining a great light on Lucrezia and showing us fabulous insight into the her family and the time period. I’d recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction, or anything set in Italy during this time frame.
Read this book if: You like Jean Plaidy, historical fiction, or the Borgia family.
My Rating: 4/5 – Borderline Amazing!