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The Secret Book of Grazia dei Rossi (Grazia dei Rossi #1)

3.85  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,288 Ratings  ·  112 Reviews
The Secret Book of Grazia dei Rossi is a sweeping tale of intrigue and romance set in a time rife with court politics, papal chicanery, religious intolerance, and inviolable social rules. Grazia, private secretary to the world-renowned Isabella d'Este, is the daughter of an eminent Jewish banker, the wife of the pope's Jewish physician, and the lover of a Christian prince. ...more
Paperback, 576 pages
Published September 8th 1998 by Simon & Schuster (first published 1997)
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Feb 21, 2008 Sylvia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My favorite novel of all time, Grazia is the daughter of a Jewish banker in Italy in 1400, falling in love with a Christian prince who is forced to marry another. Grazia marries the Pope's Jewish physician who encourages her to continue her scholarship. She becomes a scribe to Isabella d'Este and begins this book for her son, to be read when he comes of age. Renaissance Italy comes alive in this story.
This book follows a pattern of a libra segreta, a secret manuscript written by the heroine as a confession of sorts for her young son. She chronicles her tumultuous life of an exceptionally learned girl from a quite unconventional Jewish household in Renaissance Italy. Grazia's biography aside, the picture of Jewish life is probably the most interesting part of the book. No matter how influential and prosperous, Jews were never safe from the machinations of fanatics, the dishonesty of princes or ...more
Jan 06, 2009 Erin rated it liked it
I enjoyed this very much and got through it quite quickly. Grazia's perspective as a female, Jewish scholar in Renaissance Italy was one I'd never heard before. I was extremely impressed by the all the research the author must have done. Also, she quoted both translated and original text from Greek and Latin classics quite extensively. I'm not sure if she's a scholar of those languages or not, but either way, she did excellently in that regard. It really lent a feeling of authenticity to the boo ...more
Cynthia L'Hirondelle
Sep 14, 2011 Cynthia L'Hirondelle rated it it was amazing
Read this book over 10 years ago after my daughter's friend's mother lent it to me. Really enjoyed it, lots of interesting (and brutal) history and a fascinating story. I've been hoping for last 2 years to find the book to read again, but could not for life of me remember the book's title. Had resigned myself to maybe never finding it as all I could remember was the setting and time period and that it involved some early history of banking. Then was at my favorite thrift store today, where I've ...more
Nicholas Miranda
Nov 03, 2015 Nicholas Miranda rated it it was amazing
A bit of challenging vocabulary, but quite the story so far. About a secret book written by an Italian Jewish scribe in the 1500s to her son. The tale of her life's trials and tribulations and involves religious themes as well.
Lori Clark-Erickson
Jan 23, 2016 Lori Clark-Erickson rated it really liked it
Lexile: 1150
Historical Event/ Time Period: 1479-1526, Italian Renaissance.
Liked: I love the main character, Grazia, and how she is so strong, self-assertive, and brave. She is a woman, living in an unforgiving society for women, in the Italian Reniassance.
Disliked: Graizia was a Jewish woman who is in love with a Christian prince but her love was forbidden. I hated how she wasn 19t allowed to marry her one true love and instead she had to marry Judah who is also Jewish. I also didn 19t like t
The Book Maven
Lordy, lately I’ve read so many books about ladies in Renaissance Italy, I keep expecting the characters of one novel to wander off the pages of their own book and show up in another, re-living the same events. Oh dear! It’s the bonfire of the vanities! Alessandra from The Birth of Venus and Grazia from this novel may as well be peering down at it from opposite houses. Alas, that Lucrezia Borgia—is she the pawn of Blood and Beauty or the incestuous harlot in this story? God help us, Rome has bee ...more
Lissa Notreallywolf
May 12, 2015 Lissa Notreallywolf rated it really liked it
I loved this book because it had Pico Della Mirandolla as a distal character, and brought some context to the Florentine Platonic academy. I especially valued it because it is told through the eyes of a Jewish woman, whose husband is a physician and scholar. Despite Pico's enthusiasm for Caballa, he's having as little to do with it as possible. Grazia's brother takes up the magical prophetic side of things, and his fate is hard to read because we have seen him through his sisters eyes. The secon ...more
Jun 23, 2014 Diane rated it really liked it
A fun historical novel written by a scholar with a flair for romantic fiction. So there's all the fun of love and lust and the particulars of character and circumstance, plus the bonus of historical figures and accurate, detailed situations, conflicts, events. And she gives us the less familiar angle of a Jewish woman (and her family) making their way through life in Renaissance Italy. I say "woman," which she was in her time, altho we would call her a teen. People grew up more quickly then. It ...more
S.B. Lerner
Jan 03, 2013 S.B. Lerner rated it it was amazing
I read this book some years ago,but I remember really enjoying it, so I'm giving it 5 stars. It has all the ingredients that make for a good read: intersting history, dynamic characters, a touching romance.
Louise Allen
Sep 21, 2010 Louise Allen rated it it was amazing
Historical fiction - a perfect combination of history, life, love, family - all mixed together - during the period before and during the inquisition in Italy.
Feb 03, 2016 Lorri rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
From the beginning until the end, I loved this generational saga. It will stay with me for quite a long time.
Jan 05, 2016 Hypatia rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical
I quite enjoyed this. The ending was not at all what I expected given that it's a trilogy though. Overall, an excellent look at renaissance Italy.

A minor point, which I suspect (hope?) was a problem with my edition: there were a number of errors in the text. The one that sticks in my mind as fairly typical was in the description of a historical event: Person A deposed Person B, but Person A was married to the daughter of person C, who was understandably upset at his daughter being deposed. From
Aug 10, 2016 Karen rated it really liked it
Thoroughly enjoyed this hefty book. It took a bit of a commitment, a dictionary and some Italian interpretation, but was worth the effort. This story(her legacy) from a mother to her son, documents her life in sixteenth century Italy. Isabella d"Este, daughter of a Jewish banker, wife of the Pope's doctor and lover of a Christian prince, records her struggles between her Jewish roots, and the Christian world during the Italian renaissance period. Her story is one of a brave, intelligent woman tr ...more
Jo Anne
Dec 27, 2015 Jo Anne rated it really liked it
A book set in the 1400's covering a time period in a country that I have never read much about. Set in Italy combines the stories of powerful people and those who can not change circumstances around them. The story is told by Grazia dei Rossi a young Jewish girl who tells her story to her son via writings. Life, wars, greed, love ,hate, bigotry between race and religions and families seems so unreal but still is played out in our society today.

Part of a trilogy I am looking forward to reading t
May 30, 2015 Mirella rated it it was amazing
Finally! From international bestselling author, comes the sequel to The Secret Book of Grazia dei Rossi. I read and loved this book many years ago, and it was with great pleasure that I eagerly accepted both books to read and review. The most impressive thing of these two books is the meticulous research that Jacqueline Park did in order to write this wonderfully rich and comprehensive novel. She travelled throughout the country, researching not only the politics of 16th century Renaissance Ital ...more
Nicole G.
Oct 12, 2014 Nicole G. rated it really liked it
I've had this book for quite a few years now - it was given to me as a Christmas gift, I believe, but definitely by my mother. (Interesting aside: most books that she has picked for me over the years I have enjoyed, but I'm hard-pressed to do the same for her. She loses interest quickly). I put it into my collection and promptly forgot about it. Now, through the power of random assortment, it appeared on my to-read list.

Historical fiction is not usually my genre - probably because of choices th
Brenda Murray
Nov 20, 2012 Brenda Murray rated it it was amazing
Jacqueline Park's historical-fiction, set in Renaissance Italy, tells the tale of Grazia dei Rossi, a resilient Jewess who falls in love with a Christian prince, considers converting to Christianity, but in the end settles for a much admired though older Jewish doctor who never consummates their marriage.

The Secret Book of Grazia dei Rossi is an enjoyable read because Park so adroitly handles historical detail, action & suspense and characterization.

Grazia's tumultuous life is scarred by b
Elaine Cougler
Aug 22, 2016 Elaine Cougler rated it it was amazing
The Secret Book of Grazia dei Rossi by Jacqueline Park was a revelation to me. The format for the story--a woman's secret book--works extremely well and Park's unfolding of Grazia's story stage by stage is great. The time period and the insights into a Jewish world are fascinating. Super!
Nov 09, 2014 CynthiaA rated it really liked it
It took me a long time to finish this book but it was worth it! I do enjoy good historical fiction and this one is very good. Set in Renaissance Italy, Grazia dei Rossi doesn't let the fact that she is a woman -- and a Jewish woman, at that -- hold her back. She is smart and astute and fearless, and she forges a life for herself in defiance of the many obstacles placed in her path. She wins fast friends and has devoted family ties, while struggling with betrayal and corruption and unfulfilled lo ...more
Helen C
Nov 19, 2015 Helen C rated it it was amazing
Shelves: historical-novel
Jacqueline Park re-creates Renaissance Italy in Captivating detail, giving us a timeless portrait of a brave and brilliant woman trapped in an unforgiving, inflexible society. The Secret Book of Grazia dei Rossi is an irresistible historical novel about the dei Rossi Family.
Aug 12, 2011 Lori rated it it was amazing
This novel is intensely detailed, exquisitely written, and exhaustively researched. Since I greatly enjoy history and have been to many of the cities mentioned in the novel, I especially enjoyed the details that Ms. Park included, and I highly recommend this book to anyone with a love a Renaissance period history.

That said... if you like to read books which, if they are over 200 pages have a very large font, or have any sort of corset ripping going on, pass this one by. It is very long, and you
Dec 21, 2010 Miranda rated it really liked it
"This is a fabulous book if you love the Italian rennaissance era, and all the political and religous intrigue that it brings. Grazia is an incredibly intelligent and scholarly heroine - quite unusual for the time and I loved the way this book fully explores and expands on her scholarly pursuits. I had recently read Tobsha Learner's the Witch of Cologne and initially I was tempted to constantly compare the two. I did find this book a better read, as I became turned off by the W.O.C.'s focus on t ...more
Mar 16, 2009 Petra rated it really liked it
This book is the life story of Grazia dei Rossi, a jewish girl in the 1500's who falls in love with a Christian. It's very well written and told. I totally enjoyed the book.
In the footnotes at the end, the author says she got the idea for the book from two actual letters she found. In one, the Marchese tells a Jewish girl that she shoud convert and marry the Christian man who loves her so and it's answering reply from the girl stating that she is in a quandry about having to choose between her
May 31, 2014 Karen rated it really liked it
I was thinking about abandoning the book when it got "mushy" with young love so I checked the opinions here on Goodreads. I'm glad I did because it was, indeed, much better than the romance I feared.
Dec 25, 2014 Hermien rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: jewish, nederlands
I loved this family saga with lots of historical detail about Italy from 1476 to 1526 and look forward to the sequel, which I discovered was published on 15 November 2014.
Jul 21, 2010 Kaeli rated it really liked it
Surprisingly, excellent! A random find that I thoroughly enjoyed and brought me to the verge of tears – not commonly achieved. Part of the enjoyment comes from the fact that I don’t normally read books set in this time of humanistic Italy with all it’s beauties, hypocrisy and corruption. There are points when the historical element takes over and becomes a little tedious but this fact should not hold one back from the read. I found it to be well paced and engaging in a wholly simple and un-bedaz ...more
Lauren  Edie
Aug 17, 2012 Lauren Edie rated it it was amazing
This is a very well written and researched book set in Renaissance Italy 1484-1527. Our main character is an educated young Jewish woman. As well as great storytelling, this book is also a great way to learn the history of the period,including the basis of the banking industry, the birth of Jewish ghettos, the fury of zealots like Savonarola, the wars between aristocratic principalities France, the Roman Emperor, and the Pope; and the effects of Spain's wealth from its exploration of the New Wor ...more
Melissa Winterman
Jul 17, 2014 Melissa Winterman rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
Grazia Dei Rossi was a powerful, wealthy and charitable woman, with a powerful and wealthy story.One of my favorite Jewish Historical books.
Mar 27, 2014 Shannon rated it really liked it
Shelves: 4-stars
I enjoy historical fiction and this one did not disappoint. Very entertaining, well written and full of interesting detail.

Solid 4-star read.
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Born Jacqueline Rosen in Winnipeg in 1925, she grew up during the harsh years of the Depression. Park has very clear recollections of that uncertain time which left deep scars.

Park is the founding chairman of the Dramatic Writing Program and professor emerita at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.

Park is an acclaimed novelist, currently working on the third installment of a three-part
More about Jacqueline Park...

Other Books in the Series

Grazia dei Rossi (2 books)
  • The Legacy of Grazia dei Ross (Grazia dei Rossi, #2)

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