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Lucrezia Borgia

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3.80  ·  Rating details ·  861 ratings  ·  62 reviews
Originally published in an abridged translation, 1953.

Although Lucrezia Borgia was a daughter of Pope Alexander VI and chiefly remembered as a raven-haired poisoner, Bellonci depicts a passionate woman moving uncertainly through the papal court and the intrigues, ambitions, and political chicanery that swirled about her. Winner of the Viareggio Literary Award and the Galan
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Paperback, 406 pages
Published October 1st 2000 by Phoenix (first published 1939)
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Average rating 3.80  · 
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Tiffany
Feb 23, 2011 rated it it was ok
Last year I bought a boxed set of books about historical female personalities. I've already reviewed the set's biography of Mary Tudor, which I found dated and frankly misogynist. Bellonci's account of the life of Lucrezia Borgia avoids most of the misogyny but is terribly dated, perhaps not surprising since it was published in 1953. On top of the date, this book was written in Italian by an Italian for Italians, so it's full of inscrutable (to an American) references to subcultures and stereoty ...more
P.J. Sullivan
Aug 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is a reliable biography of Lucretia Borgia. (Yes, she spelled her name Lucretia, not Lucrezia.) The author accessed many primary sources—official documents, Vatican archives, contemporary letters and diaries. It is not an easy read, as there are many characters and titles to keep track of. The political alliances are complicated and keep changing. It is worth the effort, but I could have done without the detailed descriptions of wardrobes, pomp, and ceremony.

This book will surprise you if
...more
Laura Leilani
Oct 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
Enjoyably written; like getting gossip from a friend. How did the author get so many facts together? Facts as small as gifts given or what clothes were worn or how alone time was spent? How could anyone know these things? Because the author didn't just rely on historians for her info. She went to the source. She went to the Vatican and spent years reading letters. Lucrezia, her family and friends, and other people of the time, all sorts of letters and notes; some in code. This book won awards wh ...more
Mike
Only 2 Stars for Lucrezia Borgia. A disappointing book although it had some good parts. The first 200 pages were mainly about the Borgia family, Alexander VI and his family/clan. Lucrezia barely shows up except to get married off twice. The last part of the book has more on her third marriage and life as Duchess of Ferrara but, again, much of the discussion is on the wars and what happened after Alexander VI died. The parts about Lucrezia are mostly what she wore, the wedding decorations, jewels ...more
Dhana
Aug 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
One of my all time heroines..... A completely misunderstood woman who is now undergoing something of a renaissance, but she's been my heroine since I was 10 years old...... A Pope's illegitimate daughter, married 3 times, a businesswoman & patron of arts.....also accused of incest, witchcraft, adultery and murder....all by men. Wonderful book. ...more
Samantha
May 06, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'm usually hesitant to pick up older biographies, and I think I might be right to feel that way. There's a lot of opinion mixed in with the facts, and a lot of assumptions, a lot of times where Bellonci likes to imagine what Lucrezia is feeling, what she might do, what her thoughts and expressions are. So sometimes this read as a well-researched biography, but too often this read like a novelization of Lucrezia's life, which is not at all was I was looking for. It also took Bellonci a long time ...more
Stephen Hamilton
May 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Very well researched, but sadly the facts are swamped by a morass of conjecture, interpolation and flights of fancy. The author is also unabashedly in love with her subject and it makes this book a little less impartial than I would like a historical biography to be.
Doctor Alpha
Jun 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Read this if you want the true story about one of the most persecuted figures of woman in power in history and take all the abysmal black legend sorrounding her in the trash, where it rightfully belongs.
Erica Manning
Sep 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
My only complaint being the lack of translations for Latin and Italian phrases, and some of the excessively decorative paragraphs that only stretched out an already long book.
Angela
Oct 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
A very good biography of a very a very intriguing woman.
Marisa Mangione
Mar 30, 2008 rated it liked it
My grandmother gave me a strange set of history books for my birthday. Not sure why. I was determined not to read them until I realized that I can't return them and also got bored and started looking for train reading.

As train reading, this only attracted older men who wanted to talk about Renaissance Italy. Let's not go there.

The Borgias led a colorful life (and yes I mean that in the singular since they were so closely intertwined) but this book manages to relate their escapades in the driest
...more
Sandra Visser
Jul 22, 2012 rated it liked it
An exhaustively researched, enlightening biography about one of the most infamous women in history whose life, like that of Cleopatra and Boudicca, was recounted by her enemies. The text is quite dense and it's difficult to keep track of who's who and where's where, so an updated edition with maps and lists of people would have been welcome. Unfortunately not much happened to Lucrezia herself, so there are long periods where she does nothing much but be pregnant and the "action" moves off to her ...more
Pat Harris
Mar 08, 2016 rated it liked it
I'd always read about the villainess, Lucrezia Borgia in passing over the years; I'd studied the opera "Lucrezia Borgia" in graduate school, even a play. But now, after reading Bellonci's detailed book about her life, I have changed my mind - she was a victim, used by the whims of her brothers and the Pope. Having been raised in such corruption, how else could she have turned out? This was a hard book to get through, taking me a year to finish, as I had to take breaks every now and them. But I'm ...more
Maddy
May 27, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: donated-to-a-lfl
Written in a 1950s style, ie with no consideration for short attention spans (not that that's bad). The first scene is of cardinals picking a new pope - lots of name dropping that's not yet relevant, and a bunch of political alliances that don't make sense yet. I flipped through another Lucrezia biography at the McMaster library and it was much more on my level. It started with how Italy was organized at the time, which city-states the pope indirectly controlled, and which familes allied with wh ...more
Troy
Dec 15, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: history, nonfiction
Since the Borgia's were the intrepid instigators of the European Conquest of Italy, and they split the power of the Medici's for three generations. I was hoping for some insight into who the Borgia's were and what part the Femme Fatale of the family. Well. It seems to me that Lucrezia has little to do with this book. Her entire life overshadowed by men. From her father, brothers, husband and all her 'loves'. There is little informative about this woman other than being described as a star-crosse ...more
Dsinglet
Jun 07, 2013 rated it liked it
I am a history buff and this is a well researched biography of Lucretzia and the reign of the Borgias. If anything there is too much detail and many side plots going on. It is confusing to keep all the players straight. I particularly enjoy reading about life for court personalities. There is an interesting mix of privilege and rigid expectations. It also speaks to a certain time when Italy was ruled by a confusing array of city states.
Kecia
Jun 19, 2007 rated it it was ok
Sometimes fact is stranger than fiction and Lucrezia's life is one example. The daughter of a Pope she was married off several times for political gain for her family. Perhaps it was a bad translation but this one reads a bit dull and academic. Is the story of the poison ring true or not? This book barely touched the subject. ...more
Artemis
Feb 07, 2011 rated it liked it
This book is quite boring to me, it being a biography; which I don't usually read. But there are many detailed descriptions of the personalities of the Borgias, the political considerings, the affairs, and all the names of everybody. Which confused me; just exactly how many Giovannis and Alfonsos can there be? I think that may be the main reason that I find this book boring. :D ...more
Tony
Aug 20, 2010 rated it liked it
I liked it, but there are a LOT of names to remember, including some people who are referred to under more than one name. A list of characters in the front might have come in handy. It was interesting and deep enough to read again, which I will do sometime.
Anca
Jul 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Such an amazing woman with grace, courage and intelligence. A true lady who took advantage of her birth in very darling times. The book is very well written with careful detailing and loads of back-up creditable research. I'm loving this book. ...more
Aleida
Oct 27, 2012 added it
To be honoust, I have not read the book completely. Too many characters, too many facts. Not the right book to read in the evening after a hard day of work.... Maybe a second attempt during a well earned holiday?
Misty
Nov 13, 2012 rated it liked it
Very educational, I wouldn't recommend this book if you are looking for a light easy read. She lead a fascinating life but at times it was hard to follow due to all the names. I found myself flipping back and forth to double check characters. ...more
David
Oct 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is a wonderfully detailed biography of a passionate woman whom history has pigeonholed. I kept it close to my bed and dipped in frequently; coming away each time with greater understanding of Lucretia and her times.
Carol Waters
It was like reading the "begats" in the bible. The first quarter of the book barely mentions the girl. I opened the thing a few hundred pages later and it was difficult for me to know if I had missed anything. ...more
Magid
Jul 02, 2007 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Incestuous Italian murderesses
Er... I think this was a bad translation. Not a very well written or interesting biography of someone who was clearly quite a fiery character.
Andrew
Aug 17, 2007 rated it liked it
Others have said that this translation doesn't make for compelling reading, which is true. But the story, if you can push your way past the words, is fascinating and was enough to keep me going. ...more
Denise
Oct 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
She was a victim, not a monster. This biography was a fairly easy read.
Angela
Jan 25, 2011 added it
Getting a little history lesson before the Showtime Series starts in April.
Kristy
May 19, 2011 rated it liked it
Filled with facts, but I wish that it contained the pictures which it refers to. Rather dry.
Paul
Aug 03, 2011 rated it liked it
Very good book. Changed how i though of Lucrezia, the myth of her being the lady of poisons is stripped away. A really good look at how family work in the Papal States
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Historical Info f...: The Borgias 11 25 Apr 27, 2013 12:06PM  

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Maria Villavecchia Bellonci was an Italian writer and translator especially known for her biography of Lucrezia Borgia. She and Guido Alberti set up the Premio Strega in 1947.

Maria Bellonci nasce a Roma nel 1902. Suo padre, Girolamo Vittorio Villavecchia, insegna chimica all’università ed è autore di un celebre trattato di merceologia. Da lui Maria dirà di aver appreso il rigore della ricerca scie
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