Thursday, September 6, 2007

The Borgia Bride

The library's evening book club will be discussing The Borgia Bride by Jeanne Kalogridis on September 11 at 7:30 pm. For discussion questions, click here.

The Borgia Bride is the story of Sancha of Aragon, an illegitimate princess from Naples who is married off to the 12-year-old son of the infamous Borgia pope Alexander VI. Once she arrives in Rome, having survived baronial uprisings and the French invasion of Naples, she falls in love with her husband's older brother, Cesare, and initially attracts the jealousy of her sister-in-law Lucrezia.

You can read the first chapter here:

This site has photos of many of the Naples landmarks mentioned in The Borgia Bride.

The Sala dei Santi in the Borgia Apartments of the Vatican has a fresco painted by Pinturicchio, the Disputation of St. Catherine, that is said to depict Sancha (left) and her husband Joffre(right):

If you are interested in a factual account of the Borgias, Sarah Bradford's biography of Lucrezia Borgia is recommended.

There are a couple of historical mistakes in the novel: in one episode the pope eats chocolates from the bosoms of courtesans, but chocolate did not reach Europe until Hernando Cortez returned to Spain with cacao beans from Mexico in 1528. Also, tarot cards were not used to tell the future until the late 18th century (in France). At the time Sancha lived, they were used to play a card game (see The Tarot: History, Mystery and Lore by Cynthia Giles or Tarot: Talisman or Taboo? by Mark Hederman).

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