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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 members say

Average customer ratings

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  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

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.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Irene
  • London, United Kingdom
  • 19-07-16

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

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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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.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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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.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Amazing Narration

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

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Can't Seem to Finish This Book

What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

This is the second time I've started to listen to this book and once again I've found I can''t get more than a few chapters into it. I don't think it's the story. I've seen Jack Hawkins act and there was nothing lacking in his performances, but I'm afraid I found as I listened to the narration that I was always aware that someone was reading to me. Ideally, the experience of listening to an audio-book should be of someone telling you a story, as if from memory. Some passages came to light a bit more, but in some places I found my attention drifting as the voice became monotonous.

I know that reaction to narrators is largely a matter of personal taste, and many of the other reviewers here seem to have been very happy with Jack Hawkins. So it's perhaps just that he didn't connect with this particular listener. I think I may read the book from the page instead.

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Why did it end?

Superb. Can't wait to start the sequel. And fabulous narration. An epic story told masterfully.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Boring and dull

I didn't enjoy this. I found it boring and if I could have skipped pages on audio I would have. I couldn't wait for it to end. The writing brought none of the drama and intrigue of the Borgias to life for me, it was like reading a history book, completely distracted from the actual characters, I just don't get why people rave about this book.

4 of 9 people found this review helpful