Friday, September 16, 2016

The Scarlet Contessa

Yesterday I told you about a Rebel Queen who lived in learn about the warrior queen from Italy!

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Summary (via Goodreads): Daughter of the Duke of Milan and wife of the conniving Count Girolamo Riario, Caterina Sforza was the bravest warrior Renaissance Italy ever knew. She ruled her own lands, fought her own battles, and openly took lovers whenever she pleased.
Her remarkable tale is told by her lady-in-waiting, Dea, a woman knowledgeable in reading the "triumph cards," the predecessor of modern-day Tarot. As Dea tries to unravel the truth about her husband's murder, Caterina single-handedly holds off invaders who would steal her title and lands. However, Dea's reading of the cards reveals that Caterina cannot withstand a third and final invader—none other than Cesare Borgia, son of the corrupt Pope Alexander VI, who has an old score to settle with Caterina. Trapped inside the Fortress at Ravaldino as Borgia's cannons pound the walls, Dea reviews Caterina's scandalous past and struggles to understand their joint destiny, while Caterina valiantly tries to fight off Borgia's unconquerable army.
The Castel Sant'Angelo that Caterina is well known for taking over still stands today in Rome

Review (5/4 stars): It was time for an epic historical fiction novel and this one fit the bill perfectly. Caterina Sforza is one of those historical figures who you can barely believe actually lived such an incredibly full, adventurous, and dangerous life. She was most definitely not typical of the women of her time, and really even by today's standards, she would probably be considered a little overconfident. 

The story is told by the fictional character of her attendant/sister. I'm so glad that the author created Dea to help us visualize Caterina's life. It always bothers me when author's take liberties with real life characters, but with Dea, Kalogridis could be as outlandish as she wanted without changing the main historical facts.

I listened to the audio version, which was masterfully performed. Even though it was well over 14 hours long, it kept my interest throughout. I've read other books by Jeanne Kalogridis and have never been disappointed. If you're looking for a story about a strong woman who persevered despite every obstacle that was thrown in her path, then you'll enjoy this book.

Caterina Sforza in Botticelli Paintings
Caterina Sforza was well known for not only her brains and her courage, but also for her beauty.  There are hundreds of portaits of her still available today (often portayed as the Virgin Mary!!).  Did you know that Andrea Botticelli was so taken with her that he often used her likeness in his paintings?

Still not sure this book is for you?  You can read the first chapter on Jeanne Kalogridis' site HERE for free!  This is not a new book.  It was published in 2010.  Have you read it?  What are your thoughts?  Leave a comment below!

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