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Summary

Rodrigo Borgia picks up his papal skirts and walks out on to the public balcony. Sixty-one years old. How many years does he have in front of him? By his age, four of the five popes he had served were already rotting in their tombs. Sixty-one. Three sons, a ripening daughter and a sublime young mistress, ready to drop more fruit.

Borgia blood. Thick with ambition and determination. How long does he need? Give him another ten - no, fifteen - summers and he will have the bull crest emblazoned over half of Italy. The crowd roars its greeting. But as Pope Alexander VI lifts his hands to offer the traditional blessing, silence falls. The clothes have become the man.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your My Library section along with the audio.

©2013 Sarah Dunant (P)2013 Hachette Audio

Critic reviews

"She writes like a painter, and thinks like a philosopher . . . A tour de force of storytelling" (Amanda Foreman)
"A writer of powerful historical imagination and wicked literary gifts" (Simon Schama)

What listeners say about Blood & Beauty

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Outstanding

The recent BBC Radio4 serialisation (Book at Bedtime) didn't do this book anywhere near the justice it deservies and I'm glad that it didn't put me off this unadbridged version, which is quite simply outstanding. Maybe even on a par with Wolf Hall? The narration is superb.

10 people found this helpful

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A pleasure to enjoy

This is a wonderful historical novel that transports you to the Borgia court. The enchantment is made more enjoyable by the extraordinary reader who captures the characters and the emotions beautifully

6 people found this helpful

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A Renaissance Feast

I was inspired to download 'Blood and Beauty' having read Dunant's 'Sacred Hearts' and 'In the Company of the Courtesan.' This is a wonderful, all-consuming feast of a novel, which I'd recommend to anyone with an interest in historical fiction. Dunant really brings the Borgias to life - and they become so much more than the one-dimensional historical villains they are normally portrayed as. John Telfer's narration is a joy. He throws himself at the book with gusto, verve and great skill.

6 people found this helpful

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Gripped after a slow start

Intrigue, blood, death, fascinating characters. Loved it. Beautifully written with wonderfully evocative imagery. Well read although sometimes distracting falsetto used for the female roles.

5 people found this helpful

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Absolutely gripping and wonderfully narrated.

I am not particularly interested in the Borgias but the wonderful storytelling, well-paced and with excellent historical detail, captured me early on. The narration cannot be faulted.

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  • 26-04-19

Interesting story - very well narrated.

I enjoyed this audiobook. The story is well crafted and characters well drawn and it held my attention as I went about my chores. I thought that the narration was superb. I plan to download and listen to the sequel and hope the narrator of that novel is able to delineate the characters as well as this one! I recommend this to anyone with an interest in historical fiction.

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not good reader

l really object to the comedy performance of the reader. There was no need to impersonate female voices, theatrical sobbing or pseudo machismo. Detracted from the story.

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Recommend

Fantastic story about the notorious Borgia family in Rome. Brilliant narrative delivered by the most excellent of masterful narrators. John Telfer brings this book to life.

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Disappointing

I remember reading The Birth of Venus years ago and finding it gripping. And whenever I’ve heard Sarah Dunant talk on the radio I’ve found her well-informed and clearly passionate about her era of specialisation and Italy, about which I’m quite passionate too, so I figured I couldn’t go wrong with this book. Unfortunately it just hasn’t worked for me. I’m sure the research is meticulous, but the characters seem wooden and inauthentic. And for all the sumptuousness of the descriptions, I just can’t “see” the world described or the people who inhabit it. The narrator’s voice doesn’t help - too shouty and gruff without attenuation, and almost laughable with female voices. At least he pronounces Italian names correctly! But after a couple of tries I’ve given up at about the half-way point, finding this book ... well, a bit silly.


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Amazing Narration

John Telfer breathes life to the page, Sarah Dunant paints such a specific picture of the male physique.