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Sins of the House of Borgia

3.35 of 5 stars 3.35  ·  rating details  ·  1,481 ratings  ·  200 reviews
In the vein of Sarah Dunant's New York Times bestseller, Blood and Beauty, Sarah Bower reveals the burning heart of the Borgia family.

A Notorious Duke
An Infamous Duchess
An Innocent Girl

Violante isn't supposed to be here, in one of the grandest courts of Renaissance Italy. She isn't supposed to be a lady-in-waiting to the beautiful Lucrezia Borgia. But the same secretive
Paperback, 533 pages
Published March 8th 2011 by Sourcebooks Landmark (first published April 1st 2008)
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The Borgia Bride by Jeanne KalogridisBlood & Beauty by Sarah DunantMadonna of the Seven Hills by Jean PlaidyThe Family by Mario PuzoPoison by Sara Poole
Best Books about the Borgia Family
7th out of 50 books — 126 voters
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Historical Fiction 2011
72nd out of 114 books — 649 voters

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Community Reviews

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Lolly's Library
If I had to use only one word to describe this book, that word would be 'laborious'. That word doesn't refer to the effort which went into writing this tome, which I'm sure was laborious on Sarah Bower's part. No, laborious refers to the effort which I went through in order to slog through the book. Reading it was like pedaling a bicycle in low gear on a flat road: you work and work and work, spinning your feet furiously, only to find you've moved five feet. I would read and read and read and fi ...more
Tea Jovanović
Wonderful historical novel about Borgias... Many would say, oh, enough of them! But this is really very well written historical fiction for all fans of such books... Don't miss it! :) One of those you read in one go :)
Another impulse buy via the grocery store book aisle. Sometimes they work & sometimes they don't.

I don't think this is a terrible book, per se. But it's not my style. While I enjoy the occasional verbose historical literary fic, this one is just too herky-jerky. There's nothing wrong with the writing from a grammatical standpoint, but I can't get invested in anything on the page. The dialogue is too opaque, the scene gaps skip over too much time, & the characters are too bland -- it's th
Rio (Lynne)
I had a feeling when I saw this book was re-released with a new sexy cover and new title that it might be a trap. Boy, was I right. Can I review a book that I skipped part of? Everyone writes about the author's great writing style, well to me it just didn't flow. You have this "relationship" if you call it with Cesare and Violante that seemed very out of place for me. It started off interesting but ****small spoiler alert**** Cesare took her to this festival and he was seducing her, but then he ...more
Just want to note first of all, for the benefit of fellow readers, that this book has also been published under the title "The Book of Love".

I’m in quite a jam about how to review this book, because there were certain elements that I really liked a lot, but there were other elements that didn’t make much sense to me at all. A friend described the writing in this book as “well crafted” and that’s something I would agree with wholeheartedly. It was obvious that the author is fluent, in terms of la
Smith Barney
Sucker for anything Cesare Borgia....
Marie Z. Johansen
I am always glad for the chance to read a new historical novel about the infamous Borgia clan. For a family that is reviled by history for their poisons,excesses,immorality and greed, there seems to be a dearth of books written about them. Books about the Borgias are certainly nowhere near as popular as the Tudors for instance.

"...I was so young then and confused lust with love as the young do ...."

"Sins Of The House of Borgia" follows the life of young Jewish woman, Esther Safarti. Her story be
In 1492, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella expel the Jews from Spain, and Esther Sarfati is forced to flee to Rome with her mother. Nine years later, she converts to Christianity and enters the household of Lucrezia Borgia as a lady-in-waiting. There, she gets to know the real woman behind the infamous duchess, and...

I can't tell you - that would ruin it.

According to the author biography, Ms. Bower holds an MA in Creative Writing, and it definitely shows. The writing is beautiful. It's the "ever
Jewels ♥ My Devastating Reads
Another reader has the right word to describe this book: labourious. It's been quite a while since I was this disappointed in a novel. I was expecting something entirely different, and I was disappointed in what I got. Our main character leads us through her life--and it's not that interesting an life story. You'd think being the lover of Cesare Borgia and his sister's lady in waiting would be interesting, but the story dragged and honestly, I wonder why I bothered finishing the book at all. I d ...more
Colleen Turner
I reviewed this book initially for and am so glad I did!

“All my life I had been obedient to the men who exercised authority over me. Staying behind in Toledo at my father’s insistence, until it was too late to travel safely and I was forced to witness my mother’s lonely, unnecessary death on the beach at Nettuno. Renouncing my own faith and family in favour of these Borgias with their dangerous charm, their plausible lies and their inhumane religion. Even taking my vicious nick
Sins of the House of Borgia is a story of a young girl who gets embroiled in a game of politics that opens her eyes to the seedy side of religion and costs her more than she can afford to lose. Her mother's dead. Her father sends her to serve as lady-in-waiting to the Pope's illegitimate daughter. She is baptized, renamed, and nicknamed. All that she has ever known, from her prayers to her meals, have changed.

Then she meets her mistress' brother Cesare, and loses her heart. And in doing so she d
Lisa Wilson
I decided to read this book because of the upcoming Showtime series, The Borgias. Unfortunately, I think titling this novel Sins of the House of Borgia was a grave error. The story focuses far less on the Borgia family itself in lieu of telling the story of Esther Sarfati, a Jewish girl who converts to Christianity when she becomes a lady-in-waiting for Lucrezia Borgia. The story has a waxing and waning quality to it, and by that I mean that there are interesting, exciting points in the novel fo ...more
Really good book. One of very few I read without losing interest, lately. Sent me off on several historical information journeys.
Missy Sherriff
Two stars feels generous...
Kathleen Kelly
Lucrezia Borgia, in this fictional account of the Borgias, a very real family in the history of Italy, is the illegitimate daughter to Pope Alexander VI. Along with her father and brothers, Cesare Borgia, Giovanni Borgia, and Jofre Borgia, Lucrezia is the political pawn as they arrange marriages for her with rich and influential men.
Violante, previously Esther Sarfati, a young jewish woman who is sent to the household of Donna Lucrezia by her father. Donna Lucrezia is to be married again into t
Althea Ann
This story follows a young Jewish conversa who becomes a trusted handmaiden of Lucrezia Borgia. There's a lot of fun stuff here, though it's not quite as trashy as the cover might seem to indicate.
However, although it's an enjoyable read, I also found it a frustrating one at times. We're talking about a time period and cast of characters dominated by political intrigue, and the POV character is not a main player in any of that. On the contrary, she's a naive young woman who spends the majority o
Andreea Daia
******Full Disclosure**** This was an ARC copy, that was received through the GoodReads Advance program. I am grateful for the chance to have read this novel, which I might not have purchased otherwise.


So far I was mind-blown by Sarah Bower's literary style. I read some of the reviews before I started the novel, but nothing prepared me for such an amazing writing. This is not prose - it is poetry disguised as prose. Very powerful visual images and exquisite descriptions make this the
Sebastian Janek
Powieść rozpoczyna się dość ciekawie. Opowiada historię żydówki wygnanej z Hiszpanii. Po tułaczce trafia do Rzymu, gdzie zatrudnia się jako pomoc Lukrecji. Jest rok 1501, Juan nie żyje, Cezar zrzuca sutannę, a Lukrecja ma zamiar poślubić swojego trzeciego męża. Wtedy jej dworką zostaje Estera Sarfati, narratorka, której oczami oglądamy cały ten bałagan.
Książki nie należy porównywać z żadną dotychczas wydaną powieścią o Borgiach, ani też serialu. Jest to bardziej powieść o tematyce romantycznej.
I liked most of this book though there was parts that I wasn't thrilled with--so 3 rather than 4 stars. Sarah Bower is fantastic writer and her narrative style is very engrossing, however, there were a couple of places were there were glaring errors. One example, at one point she had a character call someone else an automaton. It stopped me cold and I had to look up the word and make sure that automaton meant robot as I was sure it did. Why a character from the very early 1500s would call someon ...more
Started pretty good then went downhill. The story dragged too much so was boring to read at times. I also found the names confusing and hard to remember, although that may be because of the length of time I took to read this book. It was interesting to learn a bit about the Borgias, but the book could have benefitted from a proper plot. I'm not too sure what the point of the story really was...
I found this work to be quite disappointing to be honest. The subject was intriguing, but the protagonist seemed unable to grasp the truth that was right before her eyes. Maybe loves blinds us all, but it made for a poor character trait. Halfway the book I already suspected what she clearly denied to be true.

I also disliked the many confusing names and titles and the family tree at the beginning was not enlightening as I found it either lacking or incomprehensive. The names of that era are caus
Beautifully written but story itself not that interesting (gave it an extra star for the writing).
It's official. The Borgias are the new Tudors. Not just in the TV world, but in the historical fiction world as well. The promise of Borgia gold led publishers to bring Sarah Bower's novel of the Borgias to the U.S. Originally published last year in the U.K. as The Book of Love, the title was changed (more obvious connection to the Borgias) and the cover was given a makeover (way more scandalous) prior to localization. Frankly, I wasn't too interested in this title at first, mostly for the flesh ...more
I finished reading this book last night, and I'm not sure how I feel about it.

On one hand, there was enough intriguing information in this book that I had to do further research, which is a great quality for a book of historical fiction. On the other hand, reading this book was WORK. The characters in this book never really moved past the pages of a history book and were therefore not nearly as interesting as they could have been. And the pace of this novel was plodding. This author, who does w
Yes, this is how historical fiction ought to be. Richly detailed, great atmosphere, strong characters and historical correct as much as possible.

Violante is a jewish girl who had to flee Spain with her family (because of the Catholic kings Ferdinand and Isabella off course). When in Rome she becomes lady-in-waiting to the duchess of Ferrara: Lucrezia Borgia, bastard daughter of pope Alexander VI. Then she falls in love with Duke Valentinois, Cesare Borgia himself. But that's not it, a lot of ot
Mar 05, 2015 Shannon rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: historical fiction readers
Recommended to Shannon by: Gerald Zinck
I had a hard time giving this book a three.

If you're not familiar with the Borgias, they were an Italian family who more recently hailed from the Catalan regions of Spain; as such they were considered outsiders by many of Italy's entrenched Renaissance families. Their relatively quick rise to power was founded on gaining the Papal throne and the wealth of the Catholic church, which put them at odds with several noble families. They were, on the whole, considered to be quite attractive in person
Ero un pò prevenuta verso questo romanzo, in quanto temevo che sarebbe stato l'ennesimo che avrebbe sfruttato la "leggenda" degli amori incestuosi di Lucrezia Borgia; una volta cominciata la lettura, tuttavia, ho davvero pensato di dovermi ricredere... fino a trenta pagine dalla fine, ahimè!
Ma andiamo con ordine.
La storia prende le mosse dalla cacciata degli ebrei dalla Spagna, a causa della quale la piccola Ester, narratrice del romanzo, arriverà a Roma, e diventerà poi la dama di compagnia fav
Sins of the House of Borgia is the story of a young Jewish girl who, after fleeing prosecution in Spain, becomes a handmaiden for Lucrezia Borgia. Originally named Esther, she is eventually renamed Violante and falls in love with Cesare Borgia.

For the most part, I liked the book. It was really interesting to read about the Borgias, especially Lucrezia. While the author took some artistic license, there were a lot of historical details, and it seemed well-researched. The writing was very good; h
Despite Violante's naivete in regards to her surroundings and her unfailing love for Cesare, I enjoyed this book and it's characters. I found the development of the characters and their surroundings to be very well done and throughout the entire book I was able to picture everything as well as feel the events which took place throughout. Bower did a wonderful job of bringing together the known historical facts with her own creative license in extrapolating the the life of Violante as she came to ...more
First of all, I agree with most of the things Lily's has pointed out in her review of this novel. I will try to be a little bit more succinct in my own, but I will not repeat the same ideas from her's.

So, I start of with what I liked. I am usually enjoying most historical fictions as I am passionate of history, I like to learn more about the past and I believe a little bit or more fiction inter-weaved with history will usually make a novel to be in my favorite list. I knew little about Borgia's
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Sarah was born and brought up in Yorkshire but now lives in Suffolk with her husband and two grown-up sons, not to mention the two golden retrievers, three chickens and an elderly, obese cat. She works for Creative Arts East, an arts development agency in Norfolk, managing projects to promote reading and creative writing. She also teaches creative writing at the University of East Anglia, where sh ...more
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“Sometimes I dance, alone, to music no-one can hear but me. When I dance I feel the beat of the earth’s own heart rise through my feet and legs, through my loins and belly and into my chest, until my own heart beats in time with the earth’s. Then I wonder if you feel it too, beneath that portion of the earth’s crust where you stand, or walk, or lie, or dance too. Because always, when I’m dancing, I’m dancing with you.” 36 likes
When we say we have given up hope, all we are really doing is challenging Madame Fortune to prove us wrong. 13 likes
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