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The Borgia Bride

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A sumptuous historical novel of passion, betrayal, scheming and incest, set in the Vatican during the 15th century. Incest. Poison. Betrayal. Three wedding presents for the Borgia bride! Italy 1492 Pope Alexander VI is elected. And so begins the Borgia reign of terror. Alexander murders, bribes and betrays to establish his dynasty. No one is immune. Rome is a hotbed of accusation and conspiracy. Every day, the River Tiber is full of new bodies. Sancha de Aragon, daughter of King Alfonso II of Naples, arrives in Rome newly wed to Alexander's youngest son, Jofre. Their marriage protects Naples against the ambitions of the French King Louis and gains Spanish support for the Borgias. But Rome is very different to her beloved Naples. The debauchery of the Borgia inner-circle is notorious: every lust is indulged and every indiscretion overlooked. Sancha is no innocent: she possesses an indomitable spirit which allows her to survive in the snake-pit, but her ancestors once rivalled the Borgias in cruelty and Sancha's greatest fear is that blood will out. Lucrezia Borgia's vicious jealously stings Sancha at first, but gradually the two young women develop a cautious friendship. Lucrezia, adored by her father but used ruthlessly as a political tool, seems deceptively innocent and sympathetic, and their bond strengthens when Lucrezia is married to Sancha's treasured brother, Alfonso. But when Sancha falls in love with Cesare Borgia, her husband's enigmatic older brother, she has no idea of how bizarre and internecine are the family's true ties. Alexander is rather more than an indulgent father; Lucrezia not the innocent she appears; and Cesare's ambition burns wildly. The only safe relationship with the Borgias is none at all: as Sancha, her brother and Naples are soon to discover!

544 pages, Hardcover

First published February 7, 2005

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About the author

Jeanne Kalogridis

20 books762 followers
Jeanne was born in Florida , and has been interested in books ever since. Her interest in language led her to earn an M.A. in Linguistics. She taught English as a Second Language for eight years at The American University of Washington, D.C., before retiring to write full time.

She now lives in California with an overly adored Labrador retriever. Her outside interests include yoga and reading everything ever published.


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Displaying 1 - 30 of 556 reviews
Profile Image for Caroline.
277 reviews53 followers
July 12, 2012
The history fanatic in me looks at The Borgia Bride and thinks, "Oh, God, people are actually being led to believe that this is historical fact. The reader is more than happy to join in with a "Oh, and the rest of it's bad, too."

Like Philippa Gregory before her, Jeanne Kalogridis has the potential to write something interesting. The prose is nothing spectacular--it suffers from many historical fiction woes, such as trite dialogue and flowery, borderline-ridiculous descriptions--but it could do. If she knew at all what she was writing about or how to write it, Kalogridis' work would probably be enjoyable. However, what is either an inability to interpret history, or, in the Gregory manner, a complete disrespect for it--paired with awful characterization--completely ruins what might have been a fun, frothy read.

I get it: this isn't a textbook, she has a right to artistic license, and so forth. I understand the need to fill in holes where history is either unknown or a little to dry. Who wants to read about every single one of Lucrezia's many pregnancies when we could gloss over a couple through time-jumps or omission? We don't need to count and flesh out all of Cesare's mistresses, because, well, that would be a big task. That said--these are real people. To slander their names without even an explanation in an author's note, something along the lines of, "I took license with this and this and this" is disrespectful to the dead. Yes, these people did live and die centuries ago: but they lived and died. Writers should not have to be historians. What they do need to think about is some respect. Particularly within cases where people like the Tudors and certainly the Borgias do not need further fiction scandal to make their already amazing stories more interesting. Kalogridis takes genuinely remarkable figures and turns them into caricatures. And because she does not even bother to elaborate upon that, she leads her readers to believe that at least some of this is rooted in fact.

Our protagonist is Sancia of Aragon, wife to Joffre, the youngest of Pope Alexander's children with mistress Vannozza de Cattanei. Sancia, an incredibly sexually confident woman in real life--who had very consensual affairs with both of Joffre's brothers, Cesare and Juan/Giovanni (he's mentioned by either name, but I'm referring to him as Juan for this review)--is reduced to a shrinking violet victim. Why should I root for Sancia when she disgusts me, unable to take any initiative and constantly used by the men in her life? Yes, you may argue that all women were used at that point in time. Lucrezia Borgia was a pawn: however, she used her influence over the men in her life to gain power, and so Sancia is simply irritating. She doesn't even try. She's not a participant, a villainous protagonist that would have been interesting and multi-dimensional. She's a bystander, wringing her hands and gasping at the hideous Borgias' exploits. That is, when she's not swooning over Cesare; her ability to both despise and love him isn't conflicted; it's childish. Why not have her embrace one or the other? I would guess that it's because Kalogridis doe not know how to sell a truly dark protagonist. Of course, Sancia suffers from other typical historical fiction heroine problems. Note that she is pointed out, in her own voice, to be prettier than legendary beauty Lucrezia; note that she manages to make even the most terrible Cesare fall in love with her, not to mention Rodrigo's completely fictionalized attraction and Juan's obsession. It's so boring.

Now, as for the Borgia clan themselves... Their complete lack of dimension--they are either villains or victims, without a shred of gray--makes them appalling as either antagonists or protagonists. Rodrigo, a pope with cunning and known love for his family, is reduced to being a molester and rapist. Kalogridis, unsurprisingly, gives way to the fabricated rumors that he had a sexual relationship with his daughter, Lucrezia... Which was one of the greatest lies of history, with no basis. At this point in the book, I was not at all shocked.

Juan and Sancia's affair is treated as some sort of rape scene, to avoid casting our heroine as a "slut". But I don't care about that as much as I care about deciding whose character is assassinated more: Lucrezia or Cesare Borgia's. Their relationship, which was one of non-physical, unintentional and unconditional love in real life--beautiful rather than incestuous--is depicted here as another rape. Why? We can't rehabilitate "terrible" Lucrezia Borgia without completely ignoring the darker aspects of her life, can we? Lucrezia didn't sleep with her brother; she did have a closer relationship with him than what can be called normal, and rather than dealing with what is an amazingly complex relationship, Kalgridis washes it over as some one-sided posession. A sort of thing that is, of course, nothing next to Cesare's "love" for Sancia. His strong sister, the one person who had any real influence over his life, is transformed into a quivering, submissive thing who would have disgusted the real Cesare and all of her contemporaries.

Cesare, by the way, was not a good man. Unlike his sister, he was not, for the most part, betrayed by history books. Kalogridis still manages to ruin his character. He's a lovestruck teenager one second, a monster the next. But he never forgets to love Sancia, right? Gone is the man who inspired Machiavelli's "The Prince". One must wonder how Cesare managed to get this far if all he talks about is loving Sancia or being rebellious or making his sister his "queen". By the way, if I read one more passage about his smirks or how "darkly charming" he is, I will throw up. The reality? This is a man who is willing to kill his brother with no remorse. He will also drop everything, riding without stop for days to console his sister after the loss of her baby, rub her feet, and tell jokes to get her mind off of the doctors' visits. He is someone capable of extreme love and extreme hate, so why doesn't Kalogridis leap at the opportunity to tackle that?

As is the norm with Borgia fiction, "The Borgia Bride" is a case of wasted opportunity. And it was a waste of my time.
Profile Image for Dorie  - Cats&Books :) .
961 reviews2,570 followers
January 23, 2019
Vivacious Sancha of Aragon arrived in Rome newly wed to a member of the notorious Borgia dynasty. She finds herself involved with a family that is deceitful, immoral and scandalously corrupt. She falls in and out of love with Cesare, the eldest son.

So many events take place that are well detailed telling a story of conspiracy, sexual intrigue and loyalty. It is definitely a page turner and the writing enthralling.

I was particularly interested in this book since I had watched the HBO series, The Borgias, this book continues on where the series left off.

I recommend this book to historical fiction lovers.
Profile Image for Stuti.
440 reviews71 followers
November 1, 2015
DNF'ed at 55%. Warning, there's a huge history rant in this review, but I'm so not apologising.

Historical fiction has a lot of emphasis on fiction, and no book shows this more aptly than the trainwreck that is The Borgia Bride. Let me tell you the stark difference between this and other historical fiction that I've read: it's worse. Not only are the characters unlikable and even mangled, but I'm a tiny bit obsessed with the Borgias, which means I knew quite a bit about the setting and characters of this book (unlike, say, the Phillippa Gregory I've read, which was at least written better anyway).

Onto the book. The story follows Sancia Sancha of Aragon, (illegitimate) granddaughter of the King of Naples. Sancia Sancha (that time was actually an accident, ha) has had a pretty fifty-fifty childhood, with a cruel, cold-hearted father but a caring, kind mother and a brother she loves like white bread more than anything else in the world. Her father, Duke of Calabria, is pretty much on a mission to punish Sancha for existing, so at the time when she's the most happy, he ruins it all — by betrothing her to a Borgia. Rodrigo Borgia has just become Pope Alexander VI, and the Duke is eager to establish strong ties with the church. What better way to do it than marry Sancha off, get her out of his hair, and deny her everything she loves? The Borgia Bride goes on as Sancha witnesses the turmoil in Naples, and is then thrown into the elaborate web of crime and deceit that the Borgias have spun around Rome.

And here's everything I didn't like.

The plot starts off agonisingly slow. The blurb is really revealing, and cuts to about 20% into the story already. No, Sancha, I don't want to know everything about your childhood. Where are the Borgias?! Give me the Borgias. That whole 20% ought to have been shortened in some way, because most of the tale before she's engaged to Borgia is backstory and it doesn't work to dump it on the reader.

Sancha's proud, even as a little girl, and her curiosity tends to get the better of her — she's also disobedient and generally unruly, much to the consternation of her brother Alfonso and the fury of her father. She grows to be a proud (if arrogant) and sexually confident young woman. Which is all great! So what's my problem with Sancha, you ask? The author tries so hard to get us to like her. Everything I know about Sancha is telling, not showing. I'm weighted down with information about her childhood and personality instead of being shown her behaviour. Sancha's clearly an attempt at a strong heroine, but she's little more than a cardboard cut-out at the best of times, and a petty jealous little girl at worst. Not only is the style of narration infused with purple prose, but it somehow manages to come off so cold with regards to Sancha. I don't give one whit about her, despite the fact that it's in first person. She and Paige Mahoney should totally have a chat sometime.

Honestly speaking, though, that's not the biggest problem I had with this book. What I absolutely hated was the author's portrayal of the Borgia family — chiefly Rodrigo, Lucrezia, and Cesare. I might've even had a problem with Juan if I hadn't been basically skimming at that point. The Borgias are absolutely fascinating. They reached the pinnacle of glory and left rumours of foul play behind them. They ruled late-15th-century Italy, and they weren't even Italian. Now tell me that's not the epitome of badassery. And yet, in The Borgia Bride, they are reduced to two-dimensional tropes.

It gets a little spoilery from here.

Rodrigo Borgia, Pope Alexander VI. He's definitely not known for being the nicest guy in history — or the most chaste. Even as a cardinal — hell, even as the Pope — he was given to womanising, and his parties were supposed to be notoriously inappropriate. In all senses of the word. He had two mistresses as Pope that we know of by name. He had children! It was said that he bought his way to the position of Pope, and that he had unnatural relations with his daughter Lucrezia. Guess what? That was propagated by his enemies. It's rumours. Let's not call it fact, dammit! But more on that later. Now that you've heard the scandalous...he was called the most outstanding pope by two of his successors. He was an excellent diplomat, tactician, and administrator, and no less a pontiff than any of his predecessors. Do we get that here? Nope. As far as The Borgia Bride is concerned, . That's it, that's all the depth he had. The only truth about him that I felt was accurately portrayed was his love for his children, and even that was telling instead of showing.

Lucrezia Borgia. I wanted to tear my hair out at this. Lucrezia's murderess-monster femme fatale reputation is based mostly on rumour, but even that's better than how she was in this book. She goes from a compassionate, warm-hearted young girl to a helpless, pretty much useless one. She had literally no character. She's petty, she's prone to jealousy — are we missing out the fact that Rome loved her? She was like a princess! Not to mention the fact that

Cesare Borgia. I will be the first to admit I'm fond of Cesare, but I'll also be the first to admit he was a sociopath — because he was. He was so widely known for his ruthless tactics and cruelty that he's mentioned in Machiavelli's The Prince for them. He's a killer, plain and simple, and no amount of womanising or familial love makes him a romantic. Yeah...nope. According to this book, he's pretty much the classic Renaissance lover — what? Excuse me? I wanted Cesare the sociopath! I wanted the truth! He's obsessed with his sister, to the point of threatening/killing her lovers/husbands! Can you tell me that's totally normal behaviour?!

If that wasn't bad enough...I skipped ahead to the afterword to read what the author had to say regarding her dire mistakes and there I discovered this book is not only an insult to intriguing historical figures, it's an insult to anyone who considers themselves remotely interested in history. The author says that some of the plot was made up *cough* but goes on to list what actually happened — and then names a whole bunch of events that are rumours. The kind of stuff that will be prefaced with 'supposedly' and 'allegedly' wherever else you read them. What?! If you're going to write historical fiction, then don't pass it off as facts .
Profile Image for Kristin.
31 reviews4 followers
June 10, 2007
One of my hobbies as a history student throughout high school and college was learning the sordid details of the corrupt ruling families of Europe. The Borgias of Italy were the epitome of fucked up, and I nearly peed myself when I saw the title of this novel at the bookstore. I enjoy historical fiction novels not only for the characters in them, but also because they're delightfully smutty and twisted. Kalogridis did not let me down with this book at all! There's graphic sex, murder, and incest -- all three elements of a successful historical fiction novel.
Profile Image for Sarah Mac.
1,057 reviews
May 24, 2022
Not awful, not great—just kinda blah. Some scenes were entertaining, but the pacing was episodic with too much summary of surrounding events to bond with the characters. Cesare comes off as sleazy & untrustworthy from the get-go; likewise, most everyone sings a one-note tune for the entirety: Jofre a wimp; Juan a hapless dick; Alfonso a saintly good guy; Rodrigo a petulant old perv; etc etc. Even Sancha is flat, abruptly flipping emotions to serve the needs of the narrative—now hating her father, now mourning her father, now mistrusting the Borgias, now lusting for Cesare, now terrified, now a BAMF. I could buy these different aspects, but there’s no lead-in, no organic growth. So…who cares? In theory Sancha provides a relatively fresh perspective on the family, but ultimately she’s just another piece being moved around on the author’s chessboard. The only ones with any real depth are crazy old King Ferrante (who dies early) & Lucrezia.

So, that’s about it. Smashingly mediocre, & a bit overkill in terms of cramming every OTT Borgia rumor into one narrative. Kalogridis’ writing is grammatically competent but lacks personality or involvement—the sexy scenes don’t feel sexy, the shocking scenes aren’t shocking, & the angry scenes are angry only because Sancha tells us so. *shrug* I didn’t hate it while reading, but it’s def not worth keeping. (There’s also a glaring discrepancy wherein a character who’s long dead—according to the family tree provided on pg 2–is negotiating with someone else years later. Important safety tip: if you’re going to reference specific dates, make sure to double-check your characters’ lifespans. 🙄)

NB: If you’re looking for more nuanced-yet-not-scholastic-sounding Borgia fiction, I recommend C.W. Gortner’s VATICAN PRINCESS (narrated by Lucrezia) or Alyssa Palombo’s BORGIA CONFESSIONS (narrated by Cesare & an OC). Either is a much better alternative to this fairly toothless read.
Profile Image for Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂ .
774 reviews554 followers
December 20, 2015
"Incest. Poison. Betrayal. Three wedding presents for the Borgia Bride."

Ok, not exactly light hearted reading for a New Zealand beach holiday! But I was drawn to the very attractive cover anyway!

I did enjoy the start where Sancha is portrayed as a boldly curious youngster. Once Sancha is married to Joffre & embarks on her affair with Cesare, Kalogridis decides to make Sancha a handwringing hypocrite & I found the book less appealing. I didn't much like Dunant's Blood & Beauty, but I think Dunants portrayal of Sancha (or Sancia) as shallow & promiscuous is likely to be closer to the truth.

Kalogridis used some words that were strange to me, but other than "intuit" I have found them all in online dictionaries.

So, all in all. a slick read good fo rthe holidays But from the Philippa Gregory school of historical fiction where they don't let facts get in the way of a good story.

Edit; I knew there was another thing that bugged me!

Kalogridis includes an Aragon family tree at the start. This shows Sancha's Uncle Fransesco as having died in 1484, when Sancha was eight. But he was still playing a minor part in this novel when Sancha was in her teens. Very sloppy.

Profile Image for Jennifer.
216 reviews68 followers
July 16, 2010
I've been debating whether I should give this book 3 or 4 stars and I've decided on 4 because I really can't think of anything that I didn't enjoy about it. I loved the writing style and the characters, or in the case of many in this novel, loved to hate them.

This is my first time reading about the Borgias and I can't wait to get my hands on more about them. I thought the Tudors were corrupt!

What really amazed me was the afterward in this novel claiming that most of what was written actually happened. I've only done a small amount of research outside of this novel so I'm not sure if this is the case or not but from what I can see, it seems to be true. This is a novel full of murder, betrayal, incest, rape, secrets, lies and corruption surrounding not only a royal family but, at the head of it all, sits a Pope, as well. A must-read for my HF-loving friends :)
Profile Image for ELisabete Marques.
109 reviews8 followers
January 12, 2019
Adorei e recomendo sem reservas.
Lindíssimo ....
Não conhecia a Sancha de Aragão... Uma personagem histórica fantástica.
Profile Image for HÜLYA.
1,074 reviews36 followers
October 30, 2018
Her turlu entrika ahlaksizlik ne icin iktidar icin..Acikcasi dehset icinde okudum.
Profile Image for Vanessa.
285 reviews715 followers
July 1, 2017
If you want to know why this book is so wrong by so many aspects, read this and this reviews and do yourself a favour: never pick up this book.
If you want to know more about The Borgias, read Sarah Bradford's biographies on Lucrezia and Cesare or, if you want to pick up an historical fiction, read the exquisite Blood & Beauty: The Borgias by Sarah Dunant, which is well researched and, even with its creative license, tries to stay true to the historical facts. Unlike The Borgia Bride.
Profile Image for Lori Elliott (semi-hiatus) .
716 reviews1,754 followers
July 31, 2010
Really enjoyed this book... I am a huge fan of Jeanne Kalogridis!!! She gives each of her charactors such individual pesonalities that you feel like you know them!!! If you are a historical fictionfan I would highly recommend reading this book!!!
Profile Image for Stacie (MagicOfBooks).
604 reviews77 followers
June 26, 2017
I will also do a video review here at my channel: http://www.youtube.com/magicofbooks

In "The Borgia Bride" by Jeanne Kalogridis, Sancha of Aragon arrives in Rome newly married to a member of the notorious Borgia family. Sancha earns the respect of the beautiful, but deceitful, Lucrezia Borgia, and also finds herself falling in love with the ambitious Cesare Borgia. Sancha is quickly wrapped in a web of betrayal and politics, and she has to use her own cunning to outwit the Borgias at their own game.

My first book by Jeanne Kalogridis was "The Scarlet Contessa" focusing on Caterina Sforza which takes place during the exact same time as "The Borgia Bride." I remember loving "The Scarlet Contessa" immensely, and have been eager to pick up another book by Kalogridis. Though I did enjoy "The Borgia Bride," I don't think it was as good as "Scarlet Contessa." "Borgia Bride" verged into a bit of melodrama on occasion and I never quite believed how quickly Sancha fell in love with Cesare Borgia. Seriously, it's love at first sight. Sancha sees Cesare on one page, thinks him handsome, and then literally maybe a chapter later they are in bed. Their relationship just never felt natural to me, and it might just be the problem of Kalogridis really needing to hook them up immediately because of the sheer amount of other plotlines that needed to happen from beginning to end. The Borgias are notorious for many crimes, many rumors, so the narrative had to be going full speed ahead, including the characters and their relationships with one another. But other than the few problems I had with this novel, I pretty much loved it. Borgia historical fiction tends to focus on the Borgias themselves, so it was nice to get a point of view from Sancha who is often just listed as Jofre Borgias' wife. I loved Sancha as a character. We get to see her as a little girl who was the daughter of the King of Naples. We see her relationship with her family, especially her brother, who eventually becomes the tragic husband of Lucrezia Borgia. And Sancha has an amazing arc from start to finish, because though she loses hope and she feels doomed even being in Rome, she never loses that tenacity to take charge of her own fate and to make the hard decisions when others will not. Definitely a heroine to admire.

Overall, really enjoyed this book, glad to see Sancha of Aragon given some literary love. And like with "The Scarlet Contessa," Kalogridis really has a sense of Renaissance Italy and the political turmoil of the time. As Philippa Gregory is to the Tudors, Jeanne Kalogridis is to the Borgias, if I had to compare her to another author. Definitely recommend this book for fans of the Borgia family, especially if you are into the rumors of incest, poison, and sinister political maneuvering.
Profile Image for Sarah.
449 reviews23 followers
February 9, 2017
This book got me so into the Italian Renaissance and its politics that after finishing, I started watching the new Medici series on Netflix and from that I went into the Borgias. Let's just say, that watching that series after finishing this book was a real eye-opener and fun watch. LOL. This book was my first introduction to the author, and it was a beautiful one. The book draws you in with a lush setting and characters that never fall neatly into evil or good. I loved every aspect of it.

I don't read many works from the Italian Renaissance era; I think I need to rectify that ASAP after reading this one. I felt like I experienced every moment with the characters. From the sun-dappled shores of southern Italy to the hustle and bustle of massive Rome to the deadly intrigues of both, this book draws the reader into the past like a great historical fiction should. The author pays attention to the little detail along with the grand historical events.

I love Sacha! She's such a strong character with a great capacity to love and hate in equal measure. She'll go to incredible lengths to protect the ones she loves and revenge those betrayed. I love that she's as capable of murder as she is comfort; it's not often that we see one character with the capacity for both in equal measure. Her quick intelligence, bright political acumen, and survival instinct round out her brilliant personality.

All the other characters that round out this gang of misfits also shine bright. Cesare is one of those characters that you love to hate. He's just as likely to stab you in the back as he is to be devoted to you. In the end, he's only looking out for numero uno. All the other background characters are as three dimensional as Cesare and Sancha, giving us a cast of strong personalities to carry off this intrigue filled story.

While this is my first foray into the author’s works, it won't be my last. She has won me over with her lush historical setting and phenomenal characters. She knows how to tell a suspenseful story while giving character development as strong a footing. I would highly recommend this book to any lover of historical fiction, especially lovers of the Italian Renaissance. It got me more interested into the source material, and I can't find any better complement to a historical fiction than that.
Profile Image for Amy Bruno.
364 reviews480 followers
February 1, 2009
This was my first foray into the author, Jeanne Kalogridis, and I have to say that I really enjoyed this book. Sancha of Aragon was a sympathetic character, someone you could really admire for her strength, especially when dealing with the Borgia family. Cesare Borgia was most evil, but at the same time, fun to hate. I even came to realize that there was some goodness in Lucrezia Borgia, which I haven't read much of. If you like drama, corruption, murder and don't mind a little incest, then I definitely recommend this book.
Profile Image for Natasa.
1,163 reviews
October 2, 2018
Being a great fan of historical fiction, I was caught up in the fast-paced storyline and enjoyed the historical detail of the times. I recommend this fascinating story. It has it all, love, betrayal, secrets...
Profile Image for Irina Villacis.
559 reviews28 followers
November 24, 2017
3.75 casi 4

este libro llevaba como entre 4 o 5 veces poder terminarlo porque me molestaba el marido de la protagonista que era débil ( resulta que no era el verdadero hijo , de ahi que no estaba tan sediento de violencia) en fin. unas escenas un poco fuertes asi que dije ... oh oh espero que esto no siga asi pero continue el libro y se enfocaron mas en los dramas familiares y alianzas estrategicas con los otros paises.

me ha gustado en general. Sancha intento amar pero aveces hay que seguir sus propias ideales.
Profile Image for Judy.
180 reviews7 followers
June 14, 2012
This is an interesting novel, told from the point of view of Sancha of Aragon, who was the wife of Jofre Borgia, the youngest son of Rodrigo Borgia (Pope Alexander VI). The marriage was arranged to set up an alliance between the papacy and Naples, and Sancha was caught up in the dealings of the Borgia family.

As far as the storytelling goes, the story was compelling. Some parts of it read like a historical romance novel rather than historical fiction, but I was willing to overlook that because the story was well thought out and held my interest. I felt Ms. Kalogridis filled in the parts that are not historically known pretty well, as well.

The biggest problem I had with the novel was mostly in the Afterword. While there was certainly speculation that Lucrezia Borgia was involved in incestuous relationships with both her father and her brother, Cesare, there has never been any definitive proof of either. There is no historical evidence of incest aside from claims from Borgia enemies, and those are unreliable, at best. However, Kalogridis passes this off as fact. In addition, the rape scene between Juan and Sancha was not likely, as it appears that Sancha had affairs with both Juan and Cesare outside of her marriage to Jofre. It is also speculation that Cesare murdered his brother Juan, and the motive behind the murder could have been a number of different reasons, to include jealousy over his affair with Sancha, a bid for power, and a desire to take a more secular role because he did not want to continue in his role in the clergy.

Overall, the novel was entertaining, but certainly not fine literature. I really liked Sancha and the strength she seemed to exude. Also, the duplicity of Lucrezia was realistic to me, as I imagine Lucrezia played a delicate and difficult role within her family as they sought political gain. If you're interested in the Borgia family, this is a good read, but please do not take everything Kalogridis has put in this book as fact.
Profile Image for Megan.
1,190 reviews73 followers
March 9, 2017
For 500 pages, this read pretty quick, although by the time I got halfway I was admittedly reading fast enough to the point of skimming. It was okay, I suppose. It was nice to see something from Sancha's POV, although Kalogridis still managed to make her seem nearly too innocent - especially in comparison to the Borgias. Sancha appeared at times to be a lot more 'holier-than-thou' and a lot more victimised in Kalogridis' novel, which felt a bit forced seeing as I don't actually believe that she was like that at all in real life.

You can argue for creative license in novels all you like, but one of my other major problems was the portrayal of the Borgias themselves. It honestly just seemed like Kalogridis had taken all the extensively bad rumours about incest and immorality and decided to use every single one. It felt very over-the-top, and unrealistic, and served no real purpose other than to create 'shocking' drama (I use that phrase very loosely and sarcastically) and draw a more heavy-handed division between Sancha and her in-laws. The character of Lucrezia herself was probably one of the better ones in the novel, and she seemed much more complex than even Sancha.

Basically it kind of read like an article in a gossip magazine, but if that's your thing, then you'll probably enjoy the novel a lot more than I did.
Profile Image for obsessedwithbooks .
151 reviews11 followers
October 21, 2008
The story of The Borgia Bride by Jeanne Kalogridis is packed with historical facts but does not become bogged down in the breadth of details, the story flowing naturally from season to season through the life of Sancha of Aragon.

The young Sancha has a rebellious nature and is in a battle of wills with her father Alfonso II of Naples, although she completely loyal to her brother Alfonso. Retaliating against Sancha for her behaviour, her father contracts a marriage for her to the Borgia family of Rome, and in Sancha’s mind, the worst possible thing that could happen - being separated from her kind and loving brother. She becomes embroiled in the Borgia family’s struggle to gain more power and suppress their enemies through corruption, betrayal, poison and war. Sancha struggle’s against the evil in the Borgia family and is eventually faced with the ultimate choice… whether to murder.

There are some crude parts, rape, incest, in the story but I thought the author treated them as well as these subjects could have been, as they were based on historical facts. If you are a fan of Phillipa Gregory you are sure to be a fan of Jeanne Kalogridis.

See more of my reviews at http://myobsessionwithbooks.blogspot....

Profile Image for L'aura.
180 reviews7 followers
September 25, 2014
First things first: a novel on Sancia is a brilliant idea. She's a very interesting figure, usually overlooked because, I guess, she might create trouble into the uber-popular incestous plot. This is why a clever author might take her and make a gorgeous book out of her story... A clever author. Not Kalogridis. Not with this book. I would love to help by providing motivations for the rate I gave to this, but I can't. Even remembering all the things that were wrong about it is almost phisically painful. It's just bad. Like, really bad. As far as I'm concerned, you'll probably live a better life without it.
Profile Image for Liz.
81 reviews21 followers
April 9, 2019
This story is about Sancha of Aragon who married the youngest son of Rodrigo Borgia who was an ambitious pope, more dedicated to having mistresses and intervening in political affairs.
It had a few true historical facts- Sancha was married at 16 and her groom barely 12, her brother Alfonso married her sister in law Lucrezia who was also daughter of Borgia, Cesar did give Sancha Lucrezia’s son to raise, she was living as a prisoner after they killed her brother. I don’t agree with other details- myths that are portrayed as facts.
Profile Image for janurarylight.
27 reviews4 followers
July 6, 2012
A juvenile Mary-Sue fan fiction. How can this ever get published?
May 30, 2021
Санча од Арагон е вонбрачната признаена ќерка на Алфонсо Втори, крал на Неапол во времето кога Италија е конголмерат на мали кралства и кнежевства , како и градови-држави под теократија на Ватикан. Како хероина таа е истовремено и принцеза и пион за оставарување на политичките цели на своето кралство. Преку нејзините очи може да се согледа политичката сцена на 15 век кој според денешните увидувања може да се карактеризира како хаотичност .Санча е свршена за италијански благородник уште на своите 15 години. И тоа што денес се смета за законски забрането , доказ за педофилија во времето на Санча е сосема нормално па така таа без двоумење и срам ќе се запознае со сексуалноста и истата ќе биде предмет на конзумација уште пред да се склучи бракот. Сепак, богатството и позицијата на грофот Онорато Каетани не се доволни за да се натпреваруваат со единственото најмоќно семејство во Италија, Борџија. За да се зацементира поповолен политички сојуз, свршувачката со Каетани е прекината, а Санча на својата шеснаесетгодишна возраст му станува сопруга на единаесетгодишниот Јофре Борџија. На тој начин се обединуваат Кралството Неапол и Домот на Борџија.По нивниот брак, Санча и Јофре се населуваат во Сквилас, мало кнежевство на Неапол, но на крајот ги доведуваат во Рим, каде Јофре е дел од семејството на папата Александар VI.
Александар, роден како Родриго Борџија, има различни деца од различни љубовни врски , вклучувајќи ги и славните Чезаре и ќерката Лукреција. Јофре, признат како друг син на папата, �� всушност легитимно признаеното потомство на една од љубовниците на Александар и нејзиниот законски сопруг, но врската е доволна за да се направи Јофре дел од екстравагантната папска придружба, заедно со Санча. На Санча и недостасува нејзиниот наполитански дом и особено помладиот брат Алфонсо на кого отсекогаш му била посветена. Но посветеноста и љубовта кон братот имат силина се до сознанието дека тој треба да се ожени со озлогласената Лукреција преку која Санча ќе ја дознае смртоносната корупција на Борџија. Таа е сведок на најлошото од нивните зла, нивните дрски убиства и развратен неморал, но таа е исто така член на нивниот круг и како таква е немоќна да стори повеќе отколку само да набљудува. Таа дури и не може да избега. Доколку авторот ја пишуваше приказната на Санча како историска романса, или со промена на историјата на вистинската жена или со создавање на алтер его, голем дел од книгата ќе беше изоставен и приказот на Санча ќе ја одведеше во друг правец. Санча не е секогаш симпатичен лик, според стандардите на современиот читател, но таа е искрена. Ја отвара својата мрачна душа и се излива под писателското перо,давајќи се себеси пред читателскиот аудиториум онаква каква што е навистина ,без скриени мотиви и фасадирани шминки.
За оние кои се љубители на англиската или посмодернистичката книжевност , оваа книга може да предизвика нелагодност во италијанскиот амбиент особено ако се проверат изнесените факти кои се прикажани во самата книга. Ренесансното Папство во тоа време летало во нагорна линија и скоро и да било непобедливо во Европа каде што религиозната вера и правосилавието имала силно политичко влијание , нешто кое е не својствено за нашата ера. Самата книга преку својата нарација избегнува да го доведе во прашање моралот на Санча со оглед на тоа што читателот може да биде згрозен од прифаќањето на Санча на неморалноста и коруппцијата на семејството во кое членува. Во некои случаи, таа рационализира. во други случаи таа едноставно им попушта на своите емоции, како што е нејзината сексуална желба за Чезаре Боргија, за кого знае дека е ладнокрвен убиец.Таа е доволно храбра да ја прекине врската, но сепак останува заробена во ова ужасно нефункционално семејство. Повеќе од половина романот зборува за Санча и нејзининте обиди да д��бие сила за да се победи злото и да се залага за правда. Невестата Боргија дефинитивно содржи материјал на срам , осуда и преиспитување на моралот . Но,од моја гледна точка , познавајќи еден мал дел од историјата не сум сигурна дека сето ова се базира на вистински историски докази. Иако постојат историски обвинувања за прикажаните наводи кои се сомнителни и контраверзни понекогаш историската фантастика често знае да ги прикаже вистинити иако се лажни. Невестата Борџија не е романса ниту пак тежнее да биде романса. Ако читателот очекува да добие романтичен историски роман пред себе може да се подготви за шок од тоа колку ова дело не е романтично . Но, за љубителите на историска фантастика книгата има фантастично добар материјал за читање кој би го довел секој читател на позиција на преиспитување на настаните од кои може да се дојде до заклучок дека кантарот за доброто и лошото секој го носи со себе .

Препорака за читање
Profile Image for Eva.
Author 5 books21 followers
June 5, 2011
First off, I’d like to say that this review was a lot longer, but I trimmed it down ;-) I’ve been very interested in the Borgia family for the past few years, and they’re one of the most fascinating parts of European Renaissance history.
Okay, okay, I admit it. I’m in withdrawal after the first season of Showtime’s The Borgias ended a few weeks ago. I love Neil Jordan’s vision of Renaissance Italy, of what went on in Pope Alexander VI’s household, and, of course, the actor who portrays Cesare Borgia, the talented Francois Arnaud. He did a fantastic job and I look forward to seeing what he does in season two.

Because of said withdrawal, I decided to check out some Borgia fiction. Having already read The Family by Mario Puzo years before the show started, I thought I’d check out some alternate options. (The Family was well-written and interesting, but Puzo goes all the way with the incest rumours, for those interested, and the way that the dastardly Pope explains it to his children is, well, disturbing. Jeremy Irons’ version of the Pope hasn’t gotten anything on Puzo’s).

One of the first books I found was from Jeanne Kalogrides, author of The Devil’s Queen, about Catherine of Medici. The back cover blurb sounded intriguing, so I thought I’d give it a shot. I started reading the first few pages and soon I had finished the first few chapters, my interest thoroughly piqued.

Sancia of Aragon (pronounced “san-cha” and thus spelled as Sancha in this book and heretofore spelled as Sancha), for those who don’t know, was an illegitimate daughter of King Alfonso II of Naples. She married 13 year-old Joffre Borgia against her will, and unsurprisingly, they didn’t have kids (although they do shack up a number of times, much to her chagrin). While we’re on the history part, her brother, Alfonso of Aragon, was Lucrezia Borgias’ second husband (and one she actually liked. A lot. Which pissed Cesare off royally). The historical record and The Borgia Bride do intersect, but Kalogrides makes a number of amendments to suit her story, which made sense given that she put the spotlight on Sancha (who, incidentally, is played by one of my favourite actresses, Emmanuelle Chriqui in the Showtime series).

Sancha starts out as a rebellious youth who gets along well with her grandfather, King Ferrante of Naples (or Ferdinand I) despite his penchant for stuffing the bodies of his enemies and putting them in display in a cordoned off room of his castle,sitting around a dining table. But Sancha’s dad, Alfonso II, aka Douchebag #1, doesn’t like her independent spirit or the fact that she has the balls to question him, and he’s had it in for her since she was a kid, which is why he separates her from her favourite playmate, her brother (also named Alfonso; we’ll call him Alf despite any associations with a certain TV alien). Sancha eventually hooks up with an older guy who treats her nicely, and since they’re engaged, things are looking up for our heroine. Until her dad pulls the ultimate douchebag card and marries her off to Joffre, who is younger, shorter, kind of girly looking, and generally a wimp who never stands up for himself.

The book does a great job of re-painting some of the common perceptions and beliefs we have about the historical characters featured, including Lucrezia, who starts off like a bitch but softens toward Sancha eventually (the two become very good friends), and the Pope is basically portrayed as the lecherous, ass-grabbing pervy old man that he was rumoured to be. Cesare gets the most interesting treatment, starting off like an angel and ending up as someone so dark and violent that he would put Beelzebub to shame.

Cesare and Sancha begin an affair, and things seem to be going swimmingly until Juan Borgia, or Douchebag #2 as he will be affectionately known for the rest of the novel, comes into play. He screws things up for them by lying after having violated Sancha, but Cesare doesn’t know that. It escalates until Sancha finds out that Cesare isn’t all he’s cracked up to be. He has huge ambitions after he ceases to become a cardinal, something that does happen, and she knows from the start that it’s trouble for her. He claims to love her and to be crazy about her, but she also sees him smooching dear old sis, who, incidentally, isn’t into her bro, but rather Sancha’s, named Alfonso (it doesn’t help that her first hubby, Alfonso Sforza, has the same name. As does hubby #2′s dad. *sigh*)

It all pretty much goes downhill for Sancha after Cesare starts murdering like there’s no tomorrow. He starts going large-scale with his plans, making an alliance with France to try to take Romagna and also Naples as revenge against Sancha. And, like her father before her, Cesare knows that Sancha’s Achilles heel is her brother. As history buffs will know, he had it in for Alf (Lucrezia’s husband) allegedly because he was jealous, but this novel deviates from history’s version, which is fine in the context. While I had higher hopes for the ending, especially because of Sancha’s prowess with her blade, and I envisioned something more like a great Mexican standoff, what occurs is satisfying.

Cesare starts out like a prince, but bonus points to Kalogrides for not hiding what a cad he truly was — murderer, liar, adulterer, and master manipulator all rolled into one good looking package (well, until he gets syphilis, gets pockmarks all over his face, and takes to wearing a black veil to hide it from people. Yeah. Not pretty). Sancha, on the other hand, is as likeable a historical heroine you could ask for. She’s a fully fleshed out, three-dimensional person who isn’t just a tool to move the plot along. She’s brave, noble, kind, but also tough when she needs to be and far more interesting than the historical Sancia.

It was fascinating to see Cesare’s true, uncensored darkness, something I hope the Showtime series delivers more of in the coming second season. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve seen hints of that darkness when Cesare murdered another woman’s husband, and with his hiring out of the asssassin Michiletto, but I don’t think that the ruthlessness has been cranked up to full blast just yet. Here’s to hoping that it does.

So if you’re currently Borgia obsessed and need a different kind of fix that involves a fascinating narrative, a likeable protagonist, intrigue, and a well-written story, then look no further than The Borgia Bride.
Profile Image for Elena.
988 reviews76 followers
February 5, 2015
"The Borgia Bride" is a historical fiction about Sancha of Aragon, the woman who married Joffre Borgia; thus, even if the first quarter of the book is about Sancha alone, the most important part is about the infamous Borgia family. However, the book is not so much historical, but it definitely is fiction: it resembles quite closely a soap-opera, to be honest. There are betrayals, shocking reveals, sex scenes, and deaths: the result is entertaining, surely, but nothing more.

Kalogridis does not worry too much about accuracy: the setting is not well defined, the characters are way too modern, and, most importantly, she decides to paint as true all the worst stories about the Borgias. Of course, I can understand this decision, which makes the book way more exciting: however, it bothered me that in the author's note she still presented facts like the Borgia incest, which most probably was fake, as true.

If you are not extremely sensitive about historical accuracy, you can enjoy the book. I did, for the most part. The pace is always fast, there are a lot of things happenings, a lot of twists: as I said, Kalogridis surely manages to make it entertaining.

The depth and the construction of the novel, however, is not so successful. The characters, in my opinion, were the weakest point of the story, mostly because they were all potentially interesting, but Kalogridis didn't quite manage to make them shine.

The main character, Sancha, is the one who has more depth, since the story is told with her voice. I was quite curious about her at first: she is headstrong and independent, she is essentially good but also has a potential darkness inside of her. Now, if only this trait could have been developed more, I think Sancha could have become a great, complex heroine. Sadly, her character loses most of her potential as soon as she gets tangled in the Borgia's schemes, and she ends up being used by literally anyone. She does not develop, she does not learn from her mistakes,

The Borgia family suffers the same problem: they are all potentially interesting, because hey, they definitely were interesting historical figures. In this novel they act at their worst, but mostly without a serious motivation: Cesare, for example, can be a tender brother, a faithful lover and a ruthless killer at the same time. No, what am I saying? At the same minute. I can buy it, but there need to be a serious character study, which lacked in this story.
Pope Alexander is nothing more than a caricature, and Lucrezia is only a fool, weak woman who is used just as much as Sancha is.

The relationships are equally incongruous: Cesare and Sancha's love story is just awfully portrayed , and it doesn't make sense, mostly because of Really confusing, and way too twisted even for the Borgias.

It won't be my last attempt with Jeanne Kalogridis's books, because most of them have very promising subjects - let's just hope they are better than this one.
Profile Image for Robin.
314 reviews13 followers
October 14, 2010
I really enjoyed this more than "Devil's Queen" by the same author. Although it took a lot of liberties with the facts and supported the wildest rumors, it was a great work of fiction and very interesting to see the Borgia family from Sancha's point of view. My only criticism of the novel is that Sancha was a very similar character to Catherine de Medici in "Devil's Queen", which suggests the author doesn't know how to write a different type of main character.

My only other issue was not with the novel but with the Afterward (and this may contain spoilers, it depends how familiar you are with Borgia history), in which the author claims "Historians have speculated for centuries as to who actually poisoned Alexander VI and his eldest son. The mystery has never been solved." This suggests historians are confident the two Borgias were indeed poisoned when, from what I've read, historians consider it only a possibility. No one knows the true cause of Alexander's death and Cesare's illness.

Even worse, the Afterword goes on to claim Lucrezia's incest with her father and brother were factual which again, from everything I've read in non-fiction, is not necessarily true. There's no real evidence that Lucrezia was lovers with her father and/or brother and one has to remember that the Borgias had a lot of enemies who had good reason to spread terrible rumors about them.

I don't mind the author taking liberties with the facts in her novel - in fact, in this case, I loved the fictional elements she used - but in the Afterward, she really needs to be clear about the facts. I don't know whether she's just a poor researcher or if she's trying to skirt around certain facts to lend more authenticity to her fiction but either way, it makes me lose a certain amount of respect for her.
Profile Image for Stacie.
12 reviews1 follower
September 5, 2010
This was the first book I've read by Ms. Kalogridis and I have to say, it was EXACTLY the type of entertainment I was looking for! Exciting, suspenseful, thought-provoking. I knew little about the Borgia family before this book. After reading Tudor books almost exclusively for the past couple of years, I am thrilled to find another historical family as interesting, shocking and colorful as the Tudors - perhaps even more so! The Borgias' story is quite the historical soap opera!

In the book, the heroine of the story is Sancha of Aragon, who becomes the bride of the youngest Borgia son, Jofre, who is 4-5 years her junior. Sancha and Jofre are called to Rome to live with the rest of the infamous Borgias. There, they live amongst Rodrigo Borgia (aka Pope Alexander), who is shockingly scandalous, his daughter Lucrezia and two sons, Cesare and Juan. Sancha is at first smitten with Cesare and begins an affair with her husband's dark and handsome older brother.

As the story unfolds, Sancha is a first-hand witness to the monstrous affairs of the Borgia clan. Also, her very life is at stake in the deadly games the Borgias play. The Borgias sound like a truly evil bunch and while I'd never condone anything they did, they sure make for a fascinating read!

I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a dramatic and memorable story. This story is not for those easily shocked or offended. It is going to be tough for the next book I read to top this one!
Profile Image for Jo.
988 reviews26 followers
February 7, 2016
The Borgia Bride
by Jeanne Kalogridis

Vivacious Sancha of Aragon arrives in Rome newly wed to a member of the notorious Borgia dynasty. Surrounded by the city's opulence and political corruption, she befriends her glamorous and deceitful sister-in-law, Lucrezia, whose jealousy is as legendary as her beauty. Some say Lucrezia has poisoned her rivals, particularly those to whom her handsome brother, Cesare, has given his heart. So when Sancha falls under Cesare's irresistible spell, she must hide her secret or lose her life. Caught in the Borgias' sinister web, she summons her courage and uses her cunning to outwit them at their own game. Vividly interweaving historical detail with fiction, The Borgia Bride is a richly compelling tale of conspiracy, sexual intrigue, loyalty, and drama.

Many readers when they think of historical fiction think of Philippa Gregory, however I prefer something a little less forumatic. Jeanne Kalogridis writes with passion, her world building is superb. Her writing is a joy to read, history comes to life, in richly told layers of intrigue and historical fact.
Profile Image for Rebecca.
151 reviews20 followers
March 14, 2012
While it wasn't the worst book I've ever read, it definitely wasn't the best either. This one was pretty mediocre. I found the characters to be half-baked; I never understood where their motivations stemmed from, so I could never fully buy into them. This was especially the issue with the character of Lucrezia. I just couldn't make sense of her, and the justifications Kalogridis offered for her actions just weren't good enough. The plot was okay, but it lagged in spots, especially towards the end.

I knew a little bit about the Borgias before reading this, so I was expecting to be shocked and repulsed, but I somehow wasn't. The tone of the novel was almost apologetic, with Kalogridis making weak attempts to justify something new on every page. I wanted to despise these characters, to be surprised by them, but the only thing that surprised me was how dull and unbelievable they all seemed.

Rape, violent murder, incest--things that should get some kind of reaction--left me indifferent, meaning either that I am a psychopath or that this book was lacking emotion somewhere.

And I'm pretty sure I'm not a psychopath.
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