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The Book of Love

3.40  ·  Rating details ·  2,147 ratings  ·  242 reviews
In 1492, when Ferdinand and Isabella expel the Jews from Spain, six year old Esther Sarfati finds herself travelling to Rome to join her father, a successful banker who has helped his fellow Spaniard, Rodrigo Borgia, finance his bid for the Papacy.
Paperback, 490 pages
Published April 1st 2009 by Snowbooks (first published April 1st 2008)
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Average rating 3.40  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,147 ratings  ·  242 reviews

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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 :) ...more
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
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
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
Sarah Mac
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 that uber-
Smith Barney
Oct 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sucker for anything Cesare Borgia....
Marie Z. Johansen
Mar 08, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 b
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
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
Feb 10, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
I am a serious lover of historical fiction & setting them in Ferrara is usually a bonus & increases the odds I'll love a book. Not here. It's well written & has a lot of detail but it has one glaring problem that cannot be overlooked or discounted. The narrator. First, she has three names going over the course of this story. We meet her as Esther, she converts to Catholicism & is then Donata, she then is nicknamed Violante by Cesare & so we go with that as well.

Now possibly this wouldn't bother
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
DNF! I just couldn't do it! I could not finish this book. I gave it a valiant effort and persevered until chapter 6 or about 100 pages but decided the torture was too great even for me. I usually keep reading and make myself finish a book even when I'm struggling. Like I said just could NOT do it this time.

Although the writing was not bad, actually it was for the most part done well. It was all of the fluff and droning on and on about trivial things that put the nail in the coffin. This book ne
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
Jan 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
Sparkled my love for reading once again.

I plan to reread it soon. So be ready for a lengthy review.
Erika Williams
Dec 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this book. It was one of the first ones I picked up when I decided to read as many novels about the Borgias as I could find, and at this point, it's my favorite. At first I found the main character, converso Violante to be annoying with her constant mooning over Cesare; however, the rich setting was enough to keep my interested. Because while Violante is being deceived by Cesare and his sister, much larger political schemes are at play that she's barely aware of, schemes that could possib ...more
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
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
M.M. Strawberry Library & Reviews
Historical novels with actual historical figures can be a hit or miss, depending on how much fiction (or changes!) an author decides to add to the life of an historical figure. This novel is told from the POV of a servant of the infamous Lucrezia Borgia.

As far as a work of historical fiction goes in showing what life was like in a certain time period or location, the author does a pretty great job of showing what things were like, and how the mores of the times would in sometimes drastically dif
Cathi Stevenson
Apr 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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...
Alexandra Alexyna
again not my favorite cup of tea
Jessica   VanLanduyt
Was expecting more backstabbing, intrigue and plenty more scandalous affairs. Seemed to be drug out too long and then the most, but predictable scandal happened in the last 10 pages. Disappointed....
Sarah (Workaday Reads)
Dec 01, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2018
I wanted to like this book, but found it repetitive, unnecessarily convoluted, and very boring at parts. It is less about love and intrigue than it is about manipulation and naivete.
Sep 15, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: historical fiction readers
Recommended to Shannon by: Classy G
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
Trina Dienger
Jun 11, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’ve read many biographies of Cesare Borgia and family so I’m knowledgeable about when novels skewer the history behind repair. While the history in most books is adequate the characterizations are poor, especially since most tend to write Cesare off as a psychopath, something that annoys me given I don’t view him in that light.

To view Cesare in the morals of our own period, as is often done, is wrong and ignores everything that makes Cesare great and the Prince Niccolo Machiavelli wrote about.
Roman Clodia
Jun 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Set in the late C15th in Renaissance Italy, this tells the story of Esther, a converted Jew, in the service of Lucrezia Borgia. Historical novels tend, in my view, to fall into the political action novel or the lush romance, but Bower treads a careful line between the two. Drawn into the emotional and political machinations of the Borgias and D'Este families Esther (renamed Violante) is always the innocent, always somehow external, and always knowing and understanding less than we do.

Bower creat
Anne Neville
This book, which I read under the title The Book of Love, was a slog. So much of a slog, in fact, that I could not finish it--it wasn't worth the time and effort.

I had high hopes for Sarah Bower's book because its concept is excellent: to further the interests of her family, a Jewish girl (aged about fifteen) converts to Catholicism and becomes a lady in waiting to Lucretia Borgia. This association with the Borgia house leads her into all kinds of political intrigue, as well as the sexual exces
Annelies - In Another Era
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
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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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