Lucia’s Renaissance by C.L.R. Peterson

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A most interesting subject, locale, and time, to say the least. I cannot imagine having to deal with a theocratic rule; a believe what we tell you or suffer the consequences. The protagonist, an inquisitive young girl, finds herself enmeshed in a quandary regarding her faith after reading a book by Luther.  Lucia’s naivete about the Lutheran heresy; her words and actions, brings danger to her and her family, and that makes for a tension filled story line. I enjoyed the portrayal of 16th century Italy, especially Venezia; the sights and sounds, the market, the churches, the canals. The author highlights the fierce determination of the Church to maintain it’s supremacy and it’s stranglehold on the populace.   My only real problem with the tale is a too simplistic approach to dialogue.  Other than that, I can recommend it as a book worth your while.  3.2 stars

 

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The Serpent and the Pearl by Kate Quinn

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What I know of this time and place has been gleaned mainly from the two made for television series’ on The Borgias (while I enjoyed both series, I liked the Jeremy Irons version more).  So, I was more than curious as to how Kate Quinn would approach the subject matter while trying not to impose any of my preconceived notions on the main characters.  Well, as it turns out, I was unduly concerned as the author tells this story from the viewpoints of personages on the periphery of the Borgia clan.  Well maybe not periphery for one of the characters, after all, Giulia Farnese occupied Pope Alexander’s (the sixth of that name) bed as his mistress.  Once again the author had me immersed in the sights and smells of the era, from the kitchens of Carmelina to the flashing knives of the dwarf bodyguard Leonello.  A superbly crafted cast of characters, an attention grabbing storyline with plots and subplots enough to keep the reader guessing.  The main story follows the fortune of La Bella, Giulia, from the beginning of Rodrigo Borgia’s ascent to Pope to her dealings with the invading French.  The placing of Carmelina and Leonello into the narrative provides a refreshing look at this fascinating time of political and religious upheaval.  Another pleasant and page turning work from a very talented scribe.  5 stars