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Carpe Librum

Bookish conversation with author Samantha Wilcoxson.


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Historical Novel Society

Review: The Lion and the Rose by Kate Quinn

The Lion and the Rose - Kate Quinn

I picked this book up to read for a little while this morning. I just finished it.

I can think of no better way to express how captivating this book is. Yes, I ignored my children, chores, and anything else that vied for my attention in order to reach the conclusion of the characters that I had grown to love. Never did I think I would find myself saying these words, but I just adore Giulia Farnese.

Well, I adore Quinn's version of her at least. This installment in the Borgia drama is darker than the first. Giulia is no longer a starry-eyed teenager, but a clever woman who can stand firm when everyone else is afraid or be demure and submissive, depending on what the situation demands. She is caring, unselfish, and always anticipating the needs of others. If she was anywhere near this sweet of a woman in real life, I hope that she did get her own happy ending after escaping from the evil Borgia web.

The real hero of the story though has got to be Leonello. This character that I initially had written off as silly novelty, how I wanted to drag him away from his bad decisions, force him to admit his true feelings, and comfort his pain. Though he gives in to some demonic impulses, in the end the reader can not hate him but pray for his redemption.

The Borgias, who seemed harmlessly blasphemous and cheerfully irreverent in The Serpent and the Pearl become something more like evil incarnate in this novel. I found myself amazed by some of their actions (which the author's note points out the authenticity of). No longer just fun, tolerant, and alluring, each of the family members becomes selfish, cruel, and just plain scary. But how does one escape their grasp once they are within it?

This was a wonderfully written book that was impossible to put down. I am only sad that anything else that I next pick up will be bound to be a disappointment.