Publisher's Note:  

The bestselling author of Blood and Beauty returns with another captivating novel about Renaissance Italy and one of history’s most notorious families. Before the Corleones, before the Lannisters, there was the Borgias.

The ferocious rise of the Borgia family in Rome has taken the country by surprise, as Pope Alexander VI—Rodrigo Borgia—openly wields his illegitimate children as dynastic weapons: His son Cesare, the arrogant, sadistic leader of a victorious mercenary army, and his scandal-soaked daughter, Lucrezia, a pawn in the marriage game. 

In Florence, a city once celebrated for her artistic wealth and learning, the people lament what has been lost after the mad monk Savonarola’s pious reign. Politics is a blood sport; violence an acceptable form of diplomacy. But Niccolò Machiavelli, a clever and calculating undersecretary, thrives in such conditions, eager to quietly manipulate the affairs of state to his own ends. Machiavelli is impressed with the influence and boldness of the Borgias—and one man in particular catches his eye.

With his moods growing more unstable and his impatience often turning into fury, Cesare will defy his own father and hatch a secret plot to consolidate his power and feed his ambition. Lucrezia, whose previous husband was murdered by her possessive brother, is set to marry once more to further the Borgias advantage. But her future sister-in-law will become a formidable adversary.

While alliances are forged, tensions between regions intensify, and deceptions are set like traps for the unwary, Sarah Dunant’s thrilling novel reveals the passions and betrayal, unrest and intrigue, conspiracy and murder that leads to the epic fall of the House of Borgia.

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Virago

In The Name of the Family

by Sarah Dunant

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Overall Review:  

In The Name of the Family is dramatic historical fiction set during the Italian Renaissance. Written by New York Times bestselling author Sarah Dunant, the novel is a continuation of Dunant's portrayal of the infamous Italo-Spanish Borgia family. Readers do not need to read Dunant's first novel -- Blood and Beauty -- to understand the events of the this book. Dunant is a descriptive writer and provides a well-researched look at Italy during the early sixteenth century. In The Name of the Family is packed with historical figures of the time period, as well as multiple storylines. While the book is fast-paced, the inclusion of so many characters often leaves the plot muddled and confusing. In The Name of the Family is a wild ride that vividly captures all the action, intrigue, and vengeance found in the lives of ancient nobility. 

Review of an Advance Reading Copy

Content Analysis:  

Profanity/Language: 24 religious exclamations, 6 mild obscenities, 4 religious profanities, 30 derogatory names, 5 scatological words, 3 anatomical terms and 7 f-word derivatives.

Violence/Gore: Multiple implied occurrences of violence, including characters seeing bodies dangle from buildings; frequent secondhand reports of violence which include tales of strangling, throwing a child into a fire, knifing, battle, cutting off a tongue and hand, a beam falling on one's head and a man drawn and quartered; a few non-detailed scenes of violent death include torture; a few brief scenes of blood and gore involve the aftermath of finding a man drawn and quartered; a few brief scenes of intense violence include a character killing his brother and a man strangling others with a wire garrote.

Sex/Nudity: Several incidents of kissing; several non-sexual depictions of nudity including nude works of sculpture; frequent sexual references include gossip about incest, illegitimate children, slang used for sexual organs and other vulgar jokes, as well as multiple pages discussing the "French pox" and other STD's; frequent implied or reported incidents of sexual activity include several pages discussing mistresses, prostitutes, and STD's; several extended scenes take place in whorehouses; a few incidents of touching areas normally covered by a bathing suit, including unwanted groping; a brief incident of nudity with sexual innuendo; a mature discussion regarding sex when characters discuss wives vs. mistresses and their wedding night for several pages; several brief scenes of sexual activity without explicit detail between adults; a few brief, yet explicit descriptions of sex. 

Mature Subject Matter:  

War, deception, backstabbing, vengeance, incarceration, sexually transmitted diseases, adultery, premature labor, looting, slander, death of family members, murder, torture, domestic abuse, mention of sodomy.

Alcohol / Drug Use:  

Characters frequently drink; scenes occur at alehouses.

Reviewed By Rachel
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