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<b>The <i>New York Times</i> bestselling author of the acclaimed Italian Renaissance novels—<i>The Birth of Venus, In the Company of the Courtesan, </i>and<i> Sacred Hearts</i>—has an exceptional talent for breathing life into history. Now Sarah Dunant turns her discerning eye to one of the world’s most intriguing and infamous families—the Borgias—in an engrossing work of literary fiction.</b><br> <b> </b><br> By the end of the fifteenth century, the beauty and creativity of Italy is matched by its brutality and corruption, nowhere more than in Rome and inside the Church. When Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia buys his way into the papacy as Alexander VI, he is defined not just by his wealth or his passionate love for his illegitimate children, but by his blood: He is a Spanish Pope in a city run by Italians. If the Borgias are to triumph, this charismatic, consummate politician with a huge appetite for life, women, and power must use papacy and family—in particular, his eldest son, Cesare, and his daughter Lucrezia—in order to succeed.<br> <br> Cesare, with a dazzlingly cold intelligence and an even colder soul, is his greatest—though increasingly unstable—weapon. Later immortalized in Machiavelli’s <i>The Prince, </i>he provides the energy and the muscle. Lucrezia, beloved by both men, is the prime dynastic tool. Twelve years old when the novel opens, hers is a journey through three marriages, and from childish innocence to painful experience, from pawn to political player.<br> <br> Stripping away the myths around the Borgias, <i>Blood & Beauty</i> is a majestic novel that breathes life into this astonishing family and celebrates the raw power of history itself: compelling, complex and relentless.<br><br><b>Praise for <i>Blood & Beauty</i></b><br> <b> </b><br>“The big, bad Borgia dynasty undergoes modern reconsideration in [Sarah Dunant’s] epic new biofiction. . . . Dunant’s biggest and best work to date, this intelligently readable account of formative events and monster players <b>has Hilary Mantel–era quality best-seller stamped all over it</b>.”<br> <b>—<i>Kirkus Reviews</i> (starred review)</b><br><br>“Hugely enjoyable . . . an old-fashioned rollercoaster of a story . . . [Dunant] triumphs, like all good novelists . . . in a deft, shrewd, precise use of killer detail.”<br> <b>—<i>The Guardian </i>(UK)</b><br> <br> “[Dunant] is in her element. . . . She brings 15th-century Italian cities vividly alive. . . . [<i>Blood & Beauty</i>] is an intelligent and passionate book that will no doubt thrill Borgia-lovers.”<br> <b>—<i>The Sunday Times </i>(UK)</b><br> <b> </b><br> “What a marvelous feast of vices and desires Sarah Dunant gives us—lust and ambition, passion and power, destiny born and bought. The Borgias are arguably the most intriguing and ruthless family in all of history, and Dunant brings them ravishingly, bristlingly to life.”<br> <b>—Paula McLain, author of <i>The Paris Wife</i></b><br> <br> “An astounding achievement, extensively researched and exquisitely written . . . The Borgias have never been so human, and so humanely portrayed.”<br> <b>—Melanie Benjamin, author of <i>The Aviator’s Wife</i></b><br> <br> “A fascinating read full of vivid detail and human pathos . . . Dunant opens a window into the extraordinary machinations and skullduggery of the Borgias and provides us with a richness of description that beautifully locates them in their own time.”<br> <b>—Amanda Foreman, author of <i>A World on Fire</i></b>