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Kate QuinnThe Serpent and the Pearl

Berkley Trade, 2013

by Libbie Hawker on September 15, 2014

Kate Quinn

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(The only book reviews that are accepted on this site are edited pieces with advance writing.)

No fan of Renaissance history can ignore the far-reaching influence—or the legendary corruption—of the Borgia family. From Rodrigo Borgia, who became Pope Alexander VI, to his scheming, possibly murderous sons, to his daughter Lucrezia whose reputation for debauchery still follows her ghost to this day, the Borgias were certainly one of the most memorable families of their time.

A key figure in the family’s infamy was Giulia Farnese, the young mistress of the powerful pope. With floor-length golden hair and looks that inspired artists, Giulia was certainly beautiful. But she must have been much more than merely a stunning woman: she was the only person to escape the orbit of the cunning and destructive Borgias and live to tell the tale.

In The Serpent and the Pearl (Berkeley Trade, 2013) the rise of the Borgias is examined through the eyes of three unforgettable characters: Carmelina, a cook with a life-or-death secret to keep; Leonello, a knife-wielding dwarf on the trail of a serial killer; and Giulia Farnese, who proves, as author Kate Quinn puts it, that she “has brains under all that hair.”

Kate Quinn brings Renaissance Rome to glittering life in this, the first installment of her Borgia series. The author of five published novels set in Rome with another on the way, Quinn delights the reader with gorgeous prose and a fast-paced, intrigue-laced plot in The Serpent and the Pearl.

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