Rome, 1492: The Holy City is drenched with blood and teeming with secrets. A pope lies dying and the throne of God is left vacant, a prize awarded only to the most virtuous - or the most ruthless. The Borgia family begins its legendary rise, chronicled by an innocent girl who finds herself drawn into their dangerous web....
Vivacious Giulia Farnese has floor-length golden hair and the world at her feet: beauty, wealth, and a handsome young husband. But she is stunned to discover that her glittering marriage is a sham, and she is to be given as a concubine to the ruthless, charismatic Cardinal Borgia: Spaniard, sensualist, candidate for Pope - and passionately in love with her.
Two trusted companions will follow her into the Pope's shadowy harem: Leonello, a cynical bodyguard bent on bloody revenge against a mysterious killer, and Carmelina, a fiery cook with a past full of secrets. But as corruption thickens in the Vatican and the enemies begin to circle, Giulia and her friends will need all their wits to survive in the world of the Borgias.
©2013 Kate Quinn (P)2013 Penguin Audio
Obsessive reader, 6-10 books a week, chosen from Member reviews. Fact & fiction, subjects from the Tudors to Tookie, Harlem to Hiroshima, Huey Long to Huey Newton. In-depth fair reviews - from front to BLACK!!!
I've read a lot of books on the Borgias, both fact and fiction, and watched all the recent cable movies about them. This book is great point of view on the Borgias, told by Guilia Farnese, the teenaged married mistress of the Borgia patriarch, 60 year-old, Rodrigo, later Pope Alexander VI; a cunning intelligent dwarf who is portrayed as a very sexy little person like Emmy Award-winning actor Peter Dinklage in "Game of Thrones"; and a female chef who is on the run from a major crime in Venice. The cool thing is that each character is read by a different narrator. There's nothing more disconcerting than a male narrator trying to sound like a teenaged girl or a female narrator making "courtly love" in a quasi-bass voice. The dialogue is clever and interesting. Well worth the price of admission!
I often struggle with buying audiobooks from first time writers, because I've been burned way too often. Thus, I bought this book with really low expectations, and was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it.
I think the best part of it was the choice to have multiple narrators. I found it exceptionally wonderful to listen to these three narrate this story, and what's more, it really complements the way author wrote each character both as they see themselves, and as others see them. That's a clumsy way to describe it, but when you hear it, it will make perfect sense.
I don't read historical fiction so that I can learn about history, but I really do enjoy being able to get a sense of a place and time other than my own here and now. This book does a wonderful job of taking you then and there, and shows you what life is like from more than one point of view.
Worth a credit, worth a listen, and looking forward to book 2!
I think the story content is fascinating, and 2/3 of the narrators are wonderful. However, the narrator for Giulia seriously sounded like Ben Stein running on 2 hours of sleep. I'm gathering she's not a native English speaker, but the prosody was horrible. She'd pause mid sentence and it would be confusing as to the emotional content of the message. I tried listening for 2 days then couldn't do it anymore. Guess I'll read this on my Kindle!
I listened to all of Kate Quinn's The Serpent and the Pearl and I'd have liked to have found out how it ended. Yes, yes, I listened to the entire thing, but the story just stops with the heroes in grave danger and no resolution to any of the stories I've been following for sixteen hours.While it is true that the title includes a "Book 1" after a very strategic colon, I took that to mean the first one in a series - not act one of a story.
I might listen to the next one if I can't find anything good (want to bet it won't resolve anything either?) but I feel a little ripped off.
Besides the non-ending, this is a historic melodrama with characters and dialogue that are alright, but in no way memorable. The writer has an annoying tendency to harp on specific characterizations over and over again: Julia has long hair, the dwarf character is short and the cook is thin. Alright to pass the idle hour, but don't get your hopes up that you'll find out how it ends without spending more credits. Bah.
I am currently listening to this audiobook and am really enjoying it. I've been a big fan of the Studio Canal & Showtime productions of the Borgias and am enjoying the alternate POVs from non-Borgia characters.
I was disappointed that there weren't any more Kate Quinn books available on Audible yet. I hope they plan to release more of her novels in Audible format.
The audio was brilliant, this story was brought to life by the actors portrayal of the characters images lit up in my head.
Wuthering Heights it is classic drama at it's best
Each character activated my imagination. The performance was wonderful!
I had to charge you a fee for that service ;)
A fine book in a great historical setting. Three interesting characters, a talented cook, a savvy dwarf, and vivacious concubine, are placed in the midst of the most openly venal and corrupt papacy in the last millennium. The lead characters are likeable and believable; the Borgia papacy is anything but .... The combination makes for consistently good listening.
I loved the story and the way Kate Quinn took you inside the Borgia life. She didn't do as most and immediately go for the incest story. As a matter a fact, it was briefly mentioned.
The three narrators made the story interesting and kept it from being another male narrator trying to pull off a female voice.
Loved them all!
Carmelina. I don't know why. :)
I wish Kate Quinn's other books were in audio too.
Kate Quinn delivers interesting characters and an entertaining (if insubstantial) story.
All three of the narrators had beautiful voices, but the performance left much to be desired. I'm not sure if the problem was that the narrators were inexperienced, or if they were just reading the book for the first time... but all three performances suffered from awkward pauses and inconsistent pronunciation of names & places.
The story is enjoyable but not addictive like other historical fiction books that I've listened to. The author does a great job of describing the sights, sounds and smells of the characters' surroundings.
I have just finished listening to this book and loved it. The characters of the dwarf and the female cook have been described so well you feel as though you know them personally.
I cannot wait until the next book comes out........but I will have to.
Even though I knew a lot about the Borgias this shows them from a different angle.......the lives of those in his household and how they see the Pope, his children and most importantly his mistress!
This is a compelling book and will not disappoint!!!!
This story is just gorgeous - you close your eyes and you are back in 15th century Rome.
If you liked the recent TV series you will absolutely adore this book. The characters just spring to life.
It was lovely to have the story told by 3 people - it made the book really interesting and the narrator's sounded exactly as you imagined Guilia, Carmelina and Leonello to be.
A different side to the Borgia story
If you love history you will love it, if you don't love history this book will spark your interest and you will probably end up loving history!
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