Wednesday, March 30, 2016

542 (2016 #8). Blood and Beauty

by Sarah Dunant,
read by Edoardo Ballerini


Interesting historical fiction about the Borgia family of Renaissance Italy.  I'd heard of this family, but knew little about them.  Sarah Dunant tells their story from 1492, when Rodrigo Borgia is elected Pope Alexander VI, to about 1502, when he marries off his daughter for the third time.

Yes - his daughter.  This pope fathered four children (by the same woman) while just a cardinal, and at least one more while he was pope by a different woman.  The book, in fact, really focuses on two of Rodrigo's children, his second child and son Cesare, and his third child and oldest daughter Lucrezia.

The intriguing cover is a montage of two paintings - one of Cesare, and the other traditionally described as Lucrezia, only it has been flipped vertically to face in the opposite direction than it really does, and conveniently placed behind her brother to hide some exposed...skin.

I've read two of Dunant's other three novels set in Renaissance Italy (in Florence, Venice, and Ferrara), and I feel she has done her research.  Apparently this book is the first of two that will tell the story of this infamous family.  I am definitely going to read the sequel.

Edoardo Ballerini, who was so good reading Beautiful Ruins, also set in Italy, is also wonderful here with the Italian pronunciations.  However, his voice is not amplified enough to hear well in a car moving at high speeds.  That, however, is more likely the fault of the production company or the e-audiobook provider.


© Amanda Pape - 2016

[The e-audiobook, and an e-book for reference, were both borrowed from and returned to public libraries.]

Monday, March 07, 2016

541 (2016 #7). Boys in the Trees

by Carly Simon

Singer Carly Simon's memoir was...interesting.  A little disjointed, but interesting.

I was surprised to learn that Simon was a rather awkward little girl with a stutter, who found she could overcome the latter problem by singing.  Also unforeseen was her mother's apparent taking of a younger lover, right within the family home for her husband and children to see.

Not too surprising was the lack of love and attention (at least as perceived by Carly) from her father (of Simon and Schuster fame), the apparent molestation by an older "friend" starting when she was seven, and the name-dropping of various celebrities, including most of the men she slept with.

The book could use some heavy editing; however, it's also lacking in many areas.  For example, it ends shortly after her marriage with musician James Taylor broke up.  That was in 1983, but there was very little in the book about her life after that.

The book is enhanced with a number of photographs of Carly and her family members over the years, including the cover photo.  Too small in the e-book, but apparently not a whole lot bigger in the print book.  While this memoir is somewhat disappointing for me, I *am* looking forward to listening to the companion CD collection, "Songs from the Trees," with most of the music referenced in the book.

© Amanda Pape - 2016

[This e-book was borrowed from and returned to my university library's collection.]