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

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  1,040 ratings  ·  94 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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Sylvia
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.
Tocotin
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
Erin
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
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
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
Diane
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
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
Historical fiction - a perfect combination of history, life, love, family - all mixed together - during the period before and during the inquisition in Italy.
Nicole G.
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
...more
Brenda Murray
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
...more
CynthiaA
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
Lori
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
...more
Miranda
"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
Petra
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
...more
Karen
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.
Hermien
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.
Kaeli
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
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
Grazia Dei Rossi was a powerful, wealthy and charitable woman, with a powerful and wealthy story.One of my favorite Jewish Historical books.
Shannon
I enjoy historical fiction and this one did not disappoint. Very entertaining, well written and full of interesting detail.

Solid 4-star read.
Becka Robbins
I devoured this book greedily, taking huge bites out of it while I sat at Cafes in Cuba.

The author spent ten years carefully researching the Italiain Renaisance and the Jew's place in the society there; the main charecter in the book is based on an hisorical figure who was a scribe - not a typical position for Jewish women at that time. Her conflict over identity and the choice between comfort and loyalty to her people is an overriding theme. The atmosphere and the charecters are vibrant, and t
...more
Chelsie
Overall I was just plain disappointed in this book! It had a few memorable moments, but all together I found it long winded and a bit scattered. I really really wanted to like this book. If it was cut down to 200 pages I probably would have loved it, but I hated the long winded letters, pages of historical background and numerous(not important) minor characters. I would not recommend this book to anyone. Also not having a knowledge of the Jewish culture I was very confused constantly! Sad and di ...more
Eva
One of the best historical fiction books I've read in a long time.
Eileen
The secret "memoirs" of a Jewish woman set in Italy during the Renaissance. It is written as a record of her life that she plans to pass on to her son. Grazie is raised to value the written word and learning - something not really available to women at this time. In addition to the restrictions she faces as a woman she also has to deal with the restrictions of being Jewish. Despite all of this she becomes a woman recognised for her skills in writing. This is a very good book!
Gwendolyn
Aug 20, 2007 Gwendolyn rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Women
Shelves: renaissance
I absolutely loved this book. The characters are engaging, the history is scrupulously researched, and the subject was really interesting. Normally when reading books set during a historical period I am able to poke holes in the inaccuracies which tend to draw me out of the book. Not so with this book. Taking place in Florence during the Renaissance pogroms, it gave face to the Jews of this era and the enormous hardships they endured. A wonderful and quick read.
Bonnie
The story begins in Italy during the 16th century. It's Passover and Easter. Grazia is a Jewish child who hears Fra Bernardino preaching to the townspeople of Mantua - lying and inciting them to violence against all Jews. Her family must flee for their lives.

Grazia becomes the personal secretary of Isabelle D’Este da Gonzaga in Rome; she keeps copies of letters that pass through her hands to give to her son Danilo.

Historical fiction. A compelling read.

Rand Zacharias
What an incredible romp through the history of a real person who left a letter and was never heard from again. A heart-rending tale of romance, human love and the scourge that was placed on the Jewish nation by a Catholic church running amok.

Ms. Park has hit a grandslam with the story of Grazia...what a spirit...what a life--what a mystery her true life remains.

Dennis
This bok sat on my shelf for a long time, unread for reasons which are too complicated to explain, but when I finally got to it, it proved worth the wait, covering territory that I haven't seen any other book cover in the history of the Renaissance and the history of the Jews in Europe. Very well-writen and a story very well-told.
Julie
I just re-read this book after 12 years, as I remembered it being one of my favorites. Part of me was afraid to re-read it, as I have often found that a book's quality doesn't stand up to my memory of it upon second glance. However, this book did not disappoint! I still loved it! If you love historical fiction, add this to your list.
Mia
Simply outstanding! One of the best books I have ever read.
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