A missing-persons case isn’t what it seems in this page-turning thriller from CWA Silver Dagger Award–winning author Sarah Dunant Tough-talking PI Hannah Wolfe takes whatever cases she can get. This time, it’s a missing person: Carolyn Hamilton, a twenty-three-year-old ballet dancer, has seemingly vanished into thin air. But while Hannah chases down dead-end leads, the dancer’s body is fished out of the Thames. She was eight months pregnant. The police claim she committed suicide, but Hannah doesn’t buy the official verdict. The private eye refuses to believe that Carolyn would kill herself and her unborn child, but she’s convinced that her death is somehow connected to the pregnancy. Hannah’s quest to find the baby’s father takes her to France, where an unusual ad Carolyn answered leads to an old, moneyed family keeping monstrous secrets. And not even Hannah can guess at a deception that stretches back decades. Forced to confront her own ambivalent feelings about commitment and motherhood, Hannah won’t rest until she gets justice for Carolyn—even if it means risking her own life. This thinking person’s thriller from New York Times–bestselling author Sarah Dunant introduces a female sleuth—reminiscent of P. D. James’s Cordelia Gray, Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe, and Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone—who readers are bound never to forget. Birth Marks is the 1st book in the Hannah Wolfe Crime Novels, but you may enjoy reading the series in any order.
With their stomachs churning on the jewels they have swallowed, the courtesan Fiammetta and her companion dwarf Bucino escape the sack of Rome. It's 1527. They head for the shimmering, decadent city of Venice. Sarah Dunant's epic novel of sixteenth-century Renaissance Italy is a story about the sins of pleasure and the pleasures of sin, an intoxicating mix of fact and fiction, and a dazzling portait of one of the worlds greatest cities at its most potent moment in history.
Terrifying, dark and bold, Sarah Dunant's breakthrough psychological thriller transcends genres and audiences; it crosses all boundaries, encroaching on the darker side of sex and fantasy, male and female. Elizabeth Skorvecky has just come out of a long-term relationship with her boyfriend. Alone in her Victorian house, her only companions are her cat, a trashy crime novel she's translating from Czech, and her music. As the summer ends and the days draw in, unsettling things begin to happen. First it's just a missing CD, then music playing in an empty kitchen at midnight, then a table laid for breakfast for two. Poltergeist? Insanity? When Elizabeth wakes at four in the morning to find a man sitting at the end of her bed, she knows, sickeningly , she's very sane - and being stalked. She also discovers that the means of surviving can be just as shocking as surrender.
Before the Corleones, before the Lannisters, there were the Borgias. One of history’s most notorious families comes to life in this riveting bestseller, as the House of Borgia crosses paths with a young diplomat named Niccolò Machiavelli. “Full to the brim with vivid historical details both gory and beautiful.” —Library Journal It is 1502 and Rodrigo Borgia, a self-confessed womanizer and master of political corruption, is now on the papal throne as Alexander VI. His daughter Lucrezia, aged twenty-two—already three times married and a pawn in her father’s plans—is discovering her own power. And then there is his son Cesare Borgia, brilliant, ruthless and increasingly unstable; it is his relationship with Machiavelli that gives the Florentine diplomat a master class on the dark arts of power and politics. What he learns will go on to inform his great work of modern politics, The Prince. But while the pope rails against old age and his son’s increasingly maverick behavior, it is Lucrezia who must navigate the treacherous court of Urbino and another challenging marriage to create her own place in history. Bestselling novelist Sarah Dunant employs her remarkable gifts as a storyteller to bring to life the passionate men and women of the Borgia family, as well as the ever-compelling figure of Machiavelli, through whom the reader will experience one of the most fascinating—and doomed—dynasties of all time.
Rooted in the energetic, brutal and corrupt world of 15th-century Italy, Blood and Beauty opens with Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia, clever and charismatic, buying his way to the Papal crown. In this he is not unusual. Neither is the fact that he has illegitimate children. What does mark him is his blood; he is a Spaniard in a country run by established Italian families. To thrive, even to survive, he must create his own dynasty using the papacy and his family as the building blocks of power. His son Cesare is his most brilliant pupil. Fearless and calculating (later immortalized in Machiavelli’s The Prince), he provides the driving energy and the muscle. The Pope’s daughter, Lucrezia, beloved by both men, is their marriage tool. Just twelve when the novel opens, she is to have one dynastic union annulled and a second—beloved—husband murdered by her own brother to make way for a third strategic marriage—all before the age of twenty. Hers is a journey from pawn to political player. Using the high-wire tension of a political thriller, this portrait of power and its personal costs is the most thrilling family saga to come out of Italy since The Godfather. The Borgias emerge not as the poisoning sexual monsters of popular myth, but in all their ruthless determination and complex humanity.
1570 in the Italian city of Ferrara. Sixteen-year-old Serafina is fipped by her family from an illicit love affair and forced into the convent of Santa Caterina, renowned for its superb music. Serafina's one weapon is her glorious voice, but she refuses to sing. Madonna Chiara, an abbess as fluent in politics as she is in prayer, finds her new charge has unleased a power play - rebellion, ecstasies and hysterias - within the convent. However, watching over Serafina is Zuana, the sister in charge of the infirmary, who understands and might even challenge her incarceration.
In the vein of Sarah Dunant's New York Times bestseller, Blood and Beauty, Sarah Bower reveals the burning heart of the Borgia family. A Notorious Duke An Infamous Duchess An Innocent Girl Violante isn't supposed to be here, in one of the grandest courts of Renaissance Italy. She isn't supposed to be a lady-in-waiting to the beautiful Lucrezia Borgia. But the same secretive politics that pushed Lucrezia's father to the Vatican have landed Violante deep in a lavish landscape of passion and ambition. Violante discovers a Lucrezia unknown to those who see only a scheming harlot, and all the whispers about her brother, Cesare Borgia, never revealed the soul of the man who dances close with Violante. But those who enter the House of Borgia are never quite the same when they leave-if they leave at all. Violante's place in history will test her heart and leave her the guardian of dangerous secrets she must carry to the grave. What Readers Are Saying "Glittering, gorgeous, compelling, and stunning." "A richly satisfying historical novel. It deserves prizes."
Fresh from finishing university in England, Adam Woods arrives in Venice to begin a new chapter in his life. He soon secures employment as the personal assistant of Gordon Crace -- a famous expatriate novelist who makes his home in a dank and crumbling palazzo, surrounded by fabulous works of art, piles of unanswered correspondence and the memories of his former literary glory. Before long Adam becomes indispensable to the feeble Crace, and he finds himself at once drawn to and repelled by his elderly employer's brilliant mind and eccentric habits. As Adam comes to learn more about the scandal that brought Crace to Venice years ago, he realizes he has stumbled upon the raw material that could launch his own literary career and makes a bold decision: He will secretly write the famous author's biography. But outsmarting Crace is easier said than done, and the two soon find themselves locked in a bitter contest over the right to determine how the story of Crace's life will end. Against the haunting backdrop of the serene city, the two men engage in a ruthless game of cat and mouse that builds to a breathtaking and unexpected conclusion.
In this exhilarating cross between The Da Vinci Code and The Birth of Venus, an irrepressible young woman in 15th-century Italy must flee for her life after stumbling upon a deadly secret when she serves as a model for Botticelli... When part-time model and full-time prostitute Luciana Vetra is asked by one of her most exalted clients to pose for a painter friend, she doesn't mind serving as the model for the central figure of Flora in Sandro Botticelli's masterpiece "Primavera." But when the artist dismisses her without payment, Luciana impulsively steals an unfinished version of the painting--only to find that somone is ready to kill her to get it back. What could possibly be so valuable about the picture? As friends and clients are slaughtered around her, Luciana turns to the one man who has never desired her beauty, novice librarian Brother Guido. Fleeing Venice together, Luciana and Guido race through the nine cities of Renaissance Italy, pursued by ruthless foes who are determined to keep them from decoding the painting's secrets. Gloriously fresh and vivid, with a deliciously irreverent heroine, The Botticelli Secret is an irresistible blend of history, wit, and suspense.
"My name is Lisa di Antonio Gherardini Giocondo, though to acquaintances, I am known simply as Madonna Lisa. My story begins not with my birth but a murder, committed the year before I was born..." Florence, April 1478: The handsome Giuliano de' Medici is brutally assassinated in Florence's magnificent Duomo. The shock of the murder ripples throughout the great city, from the most renowned artists like Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, to a wealthy wool merchant and his extraordinarily beautiful daughter, Madonna Lisa. More than a decade later, Florence falls under the dark spell of the preacher Savonarola, a fanatic who burns paintings and books as easily as he sends men to their deaths. Lisa, now grown into an alluring woman, captures the heart of Giuliano's nephew and namesake. But when Guiliano, her love, meets a tragic end, Lisa must gather all her courage and cunning to untangle a sinister web of illicit love, treachery, and dangerous secrets that threatens her life. Set against the drama of 15th Century Florence, I, Mona Lisa is painted in many layers of fact and fiction, with each intricately drawn twist told through the captivating voice of Mona Lisa herself.
From Robyn Cadwallader, author of the internationally acclaimed novel The Anchoress, comes a deeply profound and moving novel of the importance of creativity and the power of connection, told through the story of the commissioning of a gorgeously decorated medieval manuscript, a Book of Hours. London, 1321: In a small shop in Paternoster Row, three people are drawn together around the creation of a magnificent book, an illuminated manuscript of prayers, a book of hours. Even though the commission seems to answer the aspirations of each one of them, their own desires and ambitions threaten its completion. As each struggles to see the book come into being, it will change everything they have understood about their place in the world. In many ways, this is a story about power - it is also a novel about the place of women in the roiling and turbulent world of the early fourteenth century; what power they have, how they wield it, and just how temporary and conditional it is. Rich, deep, sensuous and full of life, Book of Colours is also, most movingly, a profoundly beautiful story about creativity and connection, and our instinctive need to understand our world and communicate with others through the pages of a book. 'Robyn Cadwallader fashions words with the same delicate, colourful intensity that her 14th century illuminators brought to their illustrated manuscripts. Book of Colours brings alive a harsh but rich past, filled with the fantasies, fears, sly wit and tender longings of the medieval imagination.' Sarah Dunant 'Book of Colours shows the depth of possibility a book might hold - all the while shimmering with the beauty and fragility of an ancient gilded page.' Eleanor Limprecht 'Extraordinary ... a real sensory experience ... suffused with colours' ABC Radio National The Bookshelf Praise for The Anchoress: 'So beautiful, so rich, so strange, unexpected and thoughtful - also suspenseful. I loved this book.' Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love 'Affecting ... finely drawn ... a considerable achievement.' Sarah Dunant, New York Times 'Elegant and eloquent' Irish Mail 'Cadwallader's writing evokes a heightened attention to the senses: you might never read a novel so sensuous yet unconcerned with romantic love. For this alone it is worth seeking out. But also because The Anchoress achieves what every historical novel attempts: reimagining the past while opening a new window - like a squint, perhaps - to our present lives.' Sydney Morning Herald 'A novel of page-turning grace' Newtown Review of Books
Before violence tore apart the tapestry of Sri Lanka and turned its pristine beaches red, there were two families. Yasodhara tells the story of her own Sinhala family, rich in love, with everything they could ask for. As a child in idyllic Colombo, Yasodhara's and her siblings' lives are shaped by social hierarchies, their parents' ambitions, teenage love and, subtly, the differences between Tamil and Sinhala people; but the peace is shattered by the tragedies of war. Yasodhara's family escapes to Los Angeles. But Yasodhara's life has already become intertwined with a young Tamil girl's... Saraswathie is living in the active war zone of Sri Lanka, and hopes to become a teacher. But her dreams for the future are abruptly stamped out when she is arrested by a group of Sinhala soldiers and pulled into the very heart of the conflict that she has tried so hard to avoid – a conflict that, eventually, will connect her and Yasodhara in unexpected ways. Nayomi Munaweera's Island of a Thousand Mirrors is an emotionally resonant saga of cultural heritage, heartbreaking conflict and deep family bonds. Narrated in two unforgettably authentic voices and spanning the entirety of the decades-long civil war, it offers an unparalleled portrait of a beautiful land during its most difficult moment by a spellbinding new literary talent who promises tremendous things to come.
A private eye infiltrates a health spa in this witty crime novel from the CWA Silver Dagger Award–winning author of The Birth of Venus Dead carp floating in the Jacuzzi isn’t the latest youth and beauty elixir for the elite patrons of Castle Dean spa, and owner Olivia Marchant is desperate to find the culprit before she loses all her clients. London PI Hannah Wolfe is plucked, crimped, steamed, and oiled while trying to uncover a spiteful saboteur who isn’t above putting maggots in the yogurt and nails in the massage heads. Olivia also wants the sleuth to look into a series of threatening notes someone has been sending her husband, Maurice. Celebrity plastic surgeon Maurice Marchant has left some very disgruntled former patients in his wake. Women who have gone under his knife are now coping with less-than-perfect liposuction, drooping faces, and breast enlargements that went south. And when the case morphs into murder, Hannah confronts an embarrassment of suspects with means, motive, and opportunity. Tracking a killer while running surveillance on her sister’s potentially philandering husband takes Hannah out of her comfort zone and into a rarefied world where appearances aren’t just deceiving—they’re deadly. The quest for beauty is taken to diabolical lengths in this smart thriller from New York Times–bestselling author Sarah Dunant—a must-read for fans of Kinsey Millhone and Philip Marlowe. Under My Skin is the 3rd book in the Hannah Wolfe Crime Novels, but you may enjoy reading the series in any order.
Marla’s best friend, Elly, left England two years ago on a soul-searching trip through South America. Except for receiving a few postcards, Marla has not heard from her since. Then, Marla receives a strange letter from Elly begging her to fly to New York. But the person Marla meets at the airport is a very different woman from the strong, carefree friend she remembers. Elly, now well-dressed and thin, has acquired a park-view apartment, a house in the Hamptons, and a charismatic, manipulative, cocaine-smuggling boyfriend named Lenny. As Marla tries to free her friend from the dual addictions of love and cocaine, she unravels a story of seduction and power in Columbia and of desire and betrayal in California. Caught in a web of deceptions, the threat of violence mounting around them, Marla decides to take on Lenny and his empire. But Lenny–like the drug he peddles–has no intention of letting Elly go.
A father-daughter story that tells of the author’s experience growing up in a separatist fundamentalist Christian cult, from the author of the national bestseller Ghostwalk Rebecca Stott grew up in in Brighton, England, as a fourth-generation member of the Exclusive Brethren, a cult that believed the world is ruled by Satan. In this closed community, books that didn’t conform to the sect’s rules were banned, women were subservient to men and were made to dress modestly and cover their heads, and those who disobeyed the rules were punished and shamed. Yet Rebecca’s father, Roger Stott, a high-ranking Brethren minister, was a man of contradictions: he preached that the Brethren should shun the outside world, yet he kept a radio in the trunk of his car and hid copies of Yeats and Shakespeare behind the Brethren ministries. Years later, when the Stotts broke with the Brethren after a scandal involving the cult’s leader, Roger became an actor, filmmaker, and compulsive gambler who left the family penniless and ended up in jail. A curious child, Rebecca spent her insular childhood asking questions about the world and trying to glean the answers from forbidden library books. Only when she was an adult and her father was dying of cancer did she begin to understand all that had occurred during those harrowing years. It was then that Roger Stott handed her the memoir he had begun writing about the period leading up to what he referred to as the traumatic “Nazi decade,” the years in the 1960s in which he and other Brethren leaders enforced coercive codes of behavior that led to the breaking apart of families, the shunning of members, even suicides. Now he was trying to examine that time, and his complicity in it, and he asked Rebecca to write about it, to expose all that was kept hidden. In the Days of Rain is Rebecca Stott’s attempt to make sense of her childhood in the Exclusive Brethren, to understand her father’s role in the cult and in the breaking apart of her family, and to come to be at peace with her relationship with a larger-than-life figure whose faults were matched by a passion for life, a thirst for knowledge, and a love of literature and beauty. A father-daughter story as well as a memoir of growing up in a closed-off community and then finding a way out of it, this is an inspiring and beautiful account of the bonds of family and the power of self-invention. Praise for In the Days of Rain “A marvelous, strange, terrifying book, somehow finding words both for the intensity of a childhood locked in a tyrannical secret world, and for the lifelong aftershocks of being liberated from it.”—Francis Spufford, author of Golden Hill “Writers are forged in strange fires, but none stranger than Rebecca Stott’s. By rights, her memoir of her father and her early childhood inside a closed fundamentalist sect obsessed by the Rapture ought to be a horror story. But while the historian in her is merciless in exposing the cruelties and corruption involved, Rebecca the child also lights up the book, existing in a world of vivid play, dreams, even nightmares, so passionate and imaginative that it helps explain how she survived, and—even more miraculous—found the compassion and understanding to do justice to the story of her father and the painful family life he created.”—Sarah Dunant, author of The Birth of Venus
Let New York Times bestselling author Judith McNaught who “is in a class by herself” (USA TODAY) sweep you off your feet and into another time with her sensual, passionate, and spellbinding historical romance classics, featuring her “unique magic” (RT Book Reviews)—now available for the first time on ebook. Abducted from her convent school, headstrong Scottish beauty Jennifer Merrick does not easily surrender to Royce Westmoreland, Duke of Claymore. Known as “The Wolf,” his very name strikes terror in the hearts of his enemies. But proud Jennifer will have nothing to do with the fierce English warrior who holds her captive, no matter what he threatens. Boldly she challenges his will—until the night he takes her in his powerful embrace, awakening in her an irresistible hunger. Suddenly Jennifer finds herself ensnared in a bewildering and seductive web of pride, passion, and overwhelming love. This beloved tale about two defiant hearts clashing in a furious battle of wills in the glorious age of chivalry “will stay in your heart forever and be a classic on your shelves” (RT Book Reviews, Top Pick).
The classic, magnificent bestselling novel about Richard III, now in a special thirtieth anniversary edition with a new preface by the author In this triumphant combination of scholarship and storytelling, Sharon Kay Penman redeems Richard III—vilified as the bitter, twisted, scheming hunchback who murdered his nephews, the princes in the Tower—from his maligned place in history. Born into the treacherous courts of fifteenth-century England, in the midst of what history has called The War of the Roses, Richard was raised in the shadow of his charismatic brother, King Edward IV. Loyal to his friends and passionately in love with the one woman who was denied him, Richard emerges as a gifted man far more sinned against than sinning. With revisions throughout and a new author's preface discussing the astonishing discovery of Richard's remains five centuries after his death, Sharon Kay Penman's brilliant classic is more powerful and glorious than ever.
“Like Fra Filippo’s paintings, this love story, set in one of the most intriguing historical periods, is suffused with clear, warm color and fine attention to detail.” —Debra Dean, author of The Madonnas of Leningrad A vibrant and enthralling historical novel about art and passion, The Miracles of Prato by Laurie Albanese and Laura Morowitz brings Italy in the era of the Medici to glorious life—as it tells the story of an illicit love affair between the renowned painter Fra Filippo Lippi and his muse, a beautiful convent novitiate. A magnificent blend of fact, historical color, emotion, and invention, The Miracles of Prato is a novel that will delight the many fans of Tracy Chavalier’s Girl with a Pearl Earring and Susan Vreeland’s Girl in Hyacinth Blue.
A PI signs on as bodyguard to a spoiled teenager—but the simple job explodes in murder in this crime novel from a CWA Silver Dagger Award–winning author Chaperoning a rebellious teenager around London isn’t how private eye Hannah Wolfe planned to spend the weekend. But a job’s a job, especially when it comes from her mentor, ex-cop Frank Comfort. Mattie Shepherd is supposed to celebrate her fourteenth birthday with an extravagant shopping spree followed by an evening at the theater. When work calls her scientist father away, Hannah gets the job as stand-in parent. But things go from bad to tragic when violence intervenes. Mattie’s father, Tom, heads up chemical giant Vandamed’s independent cancer research department—the biggest in the country. Vandamed is also on the Animal Liberation Front’s hit list for using animals in its experimental labs. Death threats are par for the course. Until a fatal car bomb explosion adds premeditated murder to the mix. Now Hannah’s on a hunt for a killer, and her search will expose a massive corporate cover-up and rampant greed. Avenging an innocent death could cost her everything—including her lover, Nick. A must-read for fans of Raymond Chandler, Sue Grafton, and P. D. James, Fatlands will keep you guessing right to its dramatic end. Fatlands is the 2nd book in the Hannah Wolfe Crime Novels, but you may enjoy reading the series in any order.
At midnight, the dogs, cats, and rats rule Venice. The Ponte di Ghetto Nuovo, the bridge that leads to the ghetto, trembles under the weight of sacks of rotting vegetables, rancid fat, and vermin. Shapeless matter, perhaps animal, floats to the surface of Rio di San Girolamo and hovers on its greasy waters. Through the mist rising from the canal the cries and grunts of foraging pigs echo. Seeping refuse on the streets renders the pavement slick and the walking treacherous. It was on such a night that the men came for Hannah. — Hannah Levi is known throughout sixteenth-century Venice for her skill in midwifery. When a Christian count appears at Hannah's door in the Jewish ghetto imploring her to attend his labouring wife, who is nearing death, Hannah is forced to make a dangerous decision. Not only is it illegal for Jews to render medical treatment to Christians, it's also punishable by torture and death. Moreover, as her Rabbi angrily points out, if the mother or child should die, the entire ghetto population will be in peril. But Hannah’s compassion for another woman’s misery overrides her concern for self-preservation. The Rabbi once forced her to withhold care from her shunned sister, Jessica, with terrible consequences. Hannah cannot turn away from a labouring woman again. Moreover, she cannot turn down the enormous fee offered by the Conte. Despite the Rabbi’s protests, she knows that this money can release her husband, Isaac, a merchant who was recently taken captive on Malta as a slave. There is nothing Hannah wants more than to see the handsome face of the loving man who married her despite her lack of dowry, and who continues to love her despite her barrenness. She must save Isaac. Meanwhile, far away in Malta, Isaac is worried about Hannah’s safety, having heard tales of the terrifying plague ravaging Venice. But his own life is in terrible danger. He is auctioned as a slave to the head of the local convent, Sister Assunta, who is bent on converting him to Christianity. When he won’t give up his faith, he’s traded to the brutish lout Joseph, who is renowned for working his slaves to death. Isaac soon learns that Joseph is heartsick over a local beauty who won’t give him the time of day. Isaac uses his gifts of literacy and a poetic imagination—not to mention long-pent-up desire—to earn his day-to-day survival by penning love letters on behalf of his captor and a paying illiterate public. Back in Venice, Hannah packs her “"birthing spoons”—secret rudimentary forceps she invented to help with difficult births—and sets off with the Conte and his treacherous brother. Can she save the mother? Can she save the baby, on whose tiny shoulders the Conte’s legacy rests? And can she also save herself, and Isaac, and their own hopes for a future, without endangering the lives of everyone in the ghetto? The Midwife of Venice is a gripping historical page-turner, enthralling readers with its suspenseful action and vivid depiction of life in sixteenth-century Venice. Roberta Rich has created a wonderful heroine in Hannah Levi, a lioness who will fight for the survival of the man she loves, and the women and babies she is duty-bound to protect, carrying with her the best of humanity’s compassion and courage.
From New York Times bestselling author James S. A. Corey... Like many before them, Cara and her family ventured through the gates as scientists and researchers, driven to carve out a new life and uncover the endless possibilities of the unexplored alien worlds now within reach. But soon the soldiers followed and under this new order Cara makes a discovery that will change everything. Set in the hard-scrabble world of the Expanse, Strange Dogs deepens James S. A. Corey's acclaimed series. The Expanse (now a major television series)Leviathan WakesCaliban's WarAbaddon's GateCibola BurnNemesis Games Babylon's Ashes Coming Soon:Persepolis Rising The Expanse Short Fiction The Butcher of Anderson StationGods of RiskThe ChurnThe Vital AbyssDrive
The startling truth behind one of the most notorious dynasties in history is revealed in a remarkable new account by the acclaimed author of The Tudors and A World Undone. Sweeping aside the gossip, slander, and distortion that have shrouded the Borgias for centuries, G. J. Meyer offers an unprecedented portrait of the infamous Renaissance family and their storied milieu. THE BORGIAS They burst out of obscurity in Spain not only to capture the great prize of the papacy, but to do so twice. Throughout a tumultuous half-century—as popes, statesmen, warriors, lovers, and breathtakingly ambitious political adventurers—they held center stage in the glorious and blood-drenched pageant known to us as the Italian Renaissance, standing at the epicenter of the power games in which Europe’s kings and Italy’s warlords gambled for life-and-death stakes. Five centuries after their fall—a fall even more sudden than their rise to the heights of power—they remain immutable symbols of the depths to which humanity can descend: Rodrigo Borgia, who bought the papal crown and prostituted the Roman Church; Cesare Borgia, who became first a teenage cardinal and then the most treacherous cutthroat of a violent time; Lucrezia Borgia, who was as shockingly immoral as she was beautiful. These have long been stock figures in the dark chronicle of European villainy, their name synonymous with unspeakable evil. But did these Borgias of legend actually exist? Grounding his narrative in exhaustive research and drawing from rarely examined key sources, Meyer brings fascinating new insight to the real people within the age-encrusted myth. Equally illuminating is the light he shines on the brilliant circles in which the Borgias moved and the thrilling era they helped to shape, a time of wars and political convulsions that reverberate to the present day, when Western civilization simultaneously wallowed in appalling brutality and soared to extraordinary heights. Stunning in scope, rich in telling detail, G. J. Meyer’s The Borgias is an indelible work sure to become the new standard on a family and a world that continue to enthrall. Praise for The Borgias “A vivid and at times startling reappraisal of one of the most notorious dynasties in history . . . If you thought you knew the Borgias, this book will surprise you.”—Tracy Borman, author of Queen of the Conqueror and Elizabeth’s Women “The mention of the Borgia family often conjures up images of a ruthless drive for power via assassination, serpentine plots, and sexual debauchery. . . . [G. J. Meyer] convincingly looks past the mythology to present a more nuanced portrait.”—Booklist “Meyer brings his considerable skills to another infamous Renaissance family, the Borgias [and] a fresh look into the machinations of power in Renaissance Italy. . . . [He] makes a convincing case that the Borgias have been given a raw deal.”—Historical Novels Review “Fascinating . . . a gripping history of a tempestuous time and an infamous family.”—Shelf Awareness From the Hardcover edition.
As any reader of Jo Walton's Among Others might guess, Walton is both an inveterate reader of SF and fantasy, and a chronic re-reader of books. In 2008, then-new science-fiction mega-site Tor.com asked Walton to blog regularly about her re-reading—about all kinds of older fantasy and SF, ranging from acknowledged classics, to guilty pleasures, to forgotten oddities and gems. These posts have consistently been among the most popular features of Tor.com. Now this volumes presents a selection of the best of them, ranging from short essays to long reassessments of some of the field's most ambitious series. Among Walton's many subjects here are the Zones of Thought novels of Vernor Vinge; the question of what genre readers mean by "mainstream"; the underappreciated SF adventures of C. J. Cherryh; the field's many approaches to time travel; the masterful science fiction of Samuel R. Delany; Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children; the early Hainish novels of Ursula K. Le Guin; and a Robert A. Heinlein novel you have most certainly never read. Over 130 essays in all, What Makes This Book So Great is an immensely readable, engaging collection of provocative, opinionated thoughts about past and present-day fantasy and science fiction, from one of our best writers. At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.
Anne Rice's magnificent Songs of the Seraphim series continues with a lyrical and haunting new novel of angels and assassins set in dark and dangerous worlds — in our time and in centuries past. Toby O'Dare, former government assassin, is summoned by the angel Malchiah to fifteenth-century Rome — the city of Michelangelo and Raphael, of Leo X and the Holy Inquisition — to solve a terrible crime of poisoning and to uncover the secrets of an earthbound restless spirit, a diabolical dybbuk. Toby is plunged into this rich age as a lutist sent to charm and calm this troublesome spirit. In the fullness of the high Italian Renaissance, Toby soon discovers himself in the midst of dark plots and counterplots, surrounded by a still darker and more dangerous threat as the veil of ecclesiastical terror closes in around him. And as he once again embarks on a powerful journey of atonement, he is reconnected with his own past, with matters light and dark, fierce and tender, with the promise of salvation and with a deeper and richer vision of love. From the Hardcover edition.
From Pulitzer-Prize-nominated author Susan Griffin comes an unprecedented, provocative look at the dazzling world of the West’s first independent women, whose lively liaisons brought them unspoken influence, wealth, and freedom. While they charmed some of Europe’s most illustrious men honing their social skills as well as their sexual ones, the great courtesans gained riches, power, education, and sexual freedom in a time when other women were denied all of these. From Imperia of sixteenth-century Rome, who personified the Renaissance ideal of beauty; Mme. de Pompadour, the arbiter of all things fashionable in eighteenth-century Paris and Versailles; Liane de Pougy, known in France during the Belle Epoque as “Our National Courtesan”; to Sarah Bernhardt, who, following in her mother’s footsteps, supported herself in her early career with a second profession, The Book of the Courtesans tells the life stories and intricacies of the lavish lifestyles of these women. Unlike their geisha counterparts, courtesans neither lived in brothels nor bent their wills to suit their suitors. They were strong- willed, autonomous, and plucky. An open secret, their presence can be felt throughout our culture. The muses who enflamed the hearts and imaginations of our most celebrated artists, they were also artists in their own right. They wrote poetry and novels, invented the cancan at the Moulin Rouge, and presented celebrated acts at the Folies Bergères. They helped to influence and shape the sensibility of modern literature, painting, and fashion. When Greek sculptor Praxiteles wanted to depict Venus he used a famous courtesan as a model, as in later centuries Titian, Veronese, Raphael, Giorgione, and Boucher did when they painted goddesses. When Marcel Proust was a young man it was the courtesan Laure Hayman who took him under her wing, introducing him to the right people, and providing inspiration for one of literature’s greatest masterpieces. And they often had considerable political influence too. When King Louis XV needed advice on foreign affairs or appointments of state he turned to Jeanne du Barry as well as Pompadour. In her witty and insightful prose, as Griffin celebrates these alluring and fascinating women, she restores a lost legacy of women’s history. She gives us the stories of these amazing women who, starting from impoverished or unimpressive beginnings, garnered chateaux, fine coaches, fabulous collections of jewelry, and even aristocratic titles along the way. And through a brilliant exploration of their extraordinary abilities, skills, and talents which Griffin playfully categorizes as their virtues "Timing, Beauty, Cheek, Brilliance, Gaiety, Grace, and Charm" her book explains how, while helping themselves, through their often outrageous, always entertaining examples, the great courtesans not only enriched our cultural heritage but helped to liberate women from the social, sexual, and economic strictures that confined them. Intensively researched and beautifully crafted, The Book of the Courtesans delves into scintillating but often hidden worlds, telling stories gleaned from many sources, including courtesans’ memoirs, presented along with stunning rare photographs to create memorable portraits of some of the most pivotal figures in women’s history.
A sweeping, epic historical novel of exploration and invasion, of conquest and resistance, and of an enduring love that must overcome the destruction of one empire by another Kidnapped at sea by conquistadors seeking the golden land of Peru, a young Inca boy named Waman is the everyman thrown into extraordinary circumstances. Forced to become Francisco Pizarro’s translator, he finds himself caught up in one of history’s great clashes of civilizations, the Spanish invasion of the Inca Empire in the 1530s. To survive, he must not only learn political gamesmanship but also discover who he truly is, and in what country and culture he belongs. Only then can he find and be reunited with the love of his life and begin the search for his shattered family, journeying through a land and a time vividly portrayed. Based closely on real events, The Gold Eaters draws on Ronald Wright’s imaginative skill as a novelist and his deep knowledge of South America to bring alive an epic struggle that laid the foundations of the modern world.
A tall, yellow-haired young European traveller calling himself “Mogor dell’Amore,” the Mughal of Love, arrives at the court of the real Grand Mughal, the Emperor Akbar, with a tale to tell that begins to obsess the whole imperial capital. The stranger claims to be the child of a lost Mughal princess, the youngest sister of Akbar’s grandfather Babar: Qara Köz, ‘Lady Black Eyes’, a great beauty believed to possess powers of enchantment and sorcery, who is taken captive first by an Uzbeg warlord, then by the Shah of Persia, and finally becomes the lover of a certain Argalia, a Florentine soldier of fortune, commander of the armies of the Ottoman Sultan. When Argalia returns home with his Mughal mistress the city is mesmerised by her presence, and much trouble ensues. The Enchantress of Florence is a love story and a mystery – the story of a woman attempting to command her own destiny in a man’s world. It brings together two cities that barely know each other – the hedonistic Mughal capital, in which the brilliant emperor wrestles daily with questions of belief, desire and the treachery of sons, and the equally sensual Florentine world of powerful courtesans, humanist philosophy and inhuman torture, where Argalia’s boyhood friend ‘il Machia’ – Niccolò Machiavelli – is learning, the hard way, about the true brutality of power. These two worlds, so far apart, turn out to be uncannily alike, and the enchantments of women hold sway over them both. But is Mogor’s story true? And if so, then what happened to the lost princess? And if he’s a liar, must he die? From the Hardcover edition.
Meet Quinn Cummings. Former child star, mother, and modern woman, she just wants to be a good person. Quinn grew up in Los Angeles, a city whose patron saint would be a sixteen-year-old with a gold card and two trips to rehab under her belt. Quinn does crossword puzzles, eats lentils without being forced, and longs to wear a scarf without looking like a Camp Fire Girl. And she tries very hard to be the Adult--the one everybody calls for a ride to the airport--but somehow she always comes up short. In Notes from the Underwire, Quinn's smart and hilarious debut, she tackles the domestic and the delightfully absurd, proving that all too often they're one and the same. From fighting off a catnip-addled cat to mortal conflict with a sewing machine, Quinn provides insight into her often chaotic, seldom-perfect universe--a universe made even less perfect when the goofy smile of past celebrity shows its occasional fang. The book, like the author herself, is good hearted, keenly observant, and blisteringly funny. In other words, really good company.
From the internationally bestselling author of Nefertiti comes the tumultuous story of Antony and Celopatra's daughter, Selene. The marriage of Marc Antony and Cleopatra is one of the greatest love stories of all time, a tale of unbridled passion with earth-shaking political consequences. When the lovers choose to die by their own hands, their three orphaned children are taken in chains to Rome; only two—the ten-year-old twins Selene and Alexander—survive the journey. Delivered to the household of Octavian’s sister, the siblings cling to each other and to the hope that they will return one day to their rightful place on the throne of Egypt. Recounted in Selene’s youthful and engaging voice, Moran introduces a compelling cast of historical characters: Octavia, the emperor Octavian’s kind and compassionate sister, abandoned by Marc Antony for Cleopatra; Livia, Octavian's bitter and jealous wife; Marcellus, Octavian’s handsome, flirtatious nephew and heir apparent; Tiberius, Livia’s sardonic son and Marcellus’s great rival for power; and Juba, Octavian’s watchful aide, whose honored position at court has far-reaching effects on the lives of the young Egyptian royals. Selene’s narrative is animated by the concerns of a young girl in any time and place—the possibility of finding love, the pull of friendship and family, and the pursuit of her unique interests and talents. And as Selene and Alexander come of age, they are buffeted by the personal ambitions of Octavian’s family and court, by the ever-present threat of slave rebellion, and by the longings and desires deep within their own hearts. Based on meticulous research, Cleopatra’s Daughter is a fascinating portrait of imperial Rome and of the people and events of this glorious and most volatile period in human history. Emerging from the shadows of the past, Selene, a young woman of irresistible charm and preternatural intelligence, will capture your heart.
Sarah Summers is enjoying a holiday on a Nigerian beach when a young girl named Little Bee crashes irrevocably into her life. All it takes is a brief and horrifying moment of crisis — a terrifying scene that no reader will forget. Afterwards, Sarah and Little Bee might expect never to see each other again. But Little Bee finds Sarah’s husband’s wallet in the sand, and smuggles herself on board a cargo vessel with his address in mind. She spends two years in detention in England before making her way to Sarah’s house, with what will prove to be devastating timing. Chapter by chapter, alternating between Little Bee’s voice and Sarah’s, Chris Cleave wholly and caringly portrays two very different women trying to cope with events they’d never imagined. Little Bee is experiencing all the fullness and emptiness of the rich world for the first time, and her observations are hopeful, charming and piercing: “Most days I wish I was a British pound coin instead of an African girl,” she says: “Everyone would be pleased to see me coming.” Sarah is more cynical and disheartened, a successful magazine editor trying to find meaning in the face of turmoil at home and work. As the story develops, however, we learn about what matters most to her, including her fierce, protective love for her funny little son (“From the Spring of 2007 until the end of that long summer when Little Bee came to live with us,” Sarah says, “my son removed his Batman costume only at bathtimes.”). Sarah is trying to find herself as much as Little Bee is — and, unexpectedly, each character discovers a ray of hope in the other. What follows when Little Bee comes back into Sarah’s life is a powerful story of reconciliation and healing, but it is mixed in with a generous helping of satire about the daily difficulties of modern life. This is a novel about important issues, from refugee policy to the devastating effects of violence, but more than that, it does something only great fiction can: Little Bee teaches us what it is like to live through experiences most of us think of only as far off disasters in the news. As ever, the author says it best: “It’s an uplifting, thrilling, universal human story, and I just worked to keep it simple. One brave African girl; one brave Western woman. What if one just turned up on the other’s doorstep one misty morning and asked, Can you help? And what if that help wasn’t just a one-way street?”
The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits is a book of fictions, but they are also true. Over the last ten years, I have often stumbled over a scrap of history so fascinating that I had to stop whatever I was doing and write a story about it. My sources are the flotsam and jetsam of the last seven hundred years of British and Irish life: surgical case-notes; trial records; a plague ballad; theological pamphlets; a painting of two girls in a garden; an articulated skeleton. Some of the ghosts in this collection have famous names; others were written off as cripples, children, half-breeds, freaks and nobodies. The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits is named for Mary Toft, who in 1726 managed to convince half England that she had done just that. So this book is what I have to show for ten years of sporadic grave-robbing, ferreting out forgotten puzzles and peculiar incidents, asking 'What really happened?', but also, 'What if?
With his trademark emotional heft and storytelling skill, bestselling author Chris Bohjalian presents a resonant novel about the unconventional family that forms after Terry and Laura Sheldon, a Vermont storm trooper and his wife grieving the loss of their twin daughters, take in a foster child. His name is Alfred; he is ten years old and African American. And he has passed through so many indifferent families that he can’t believe that his new one will last. In the ensuing months Terry and Laura will struggle to emerge from their shell of grief only to face an unexpected threat to their marriage; Terry’s involvement with another woman. Meanwhile, Alfred cautiously enters the family circle, and befriends an elderly neighbor who inspires him with the story of the buffalo soldiers, the black cavalrymen of the old West. Out of the entwining and unfolding of their lives, The Buffalo Soldier creates a suspenseful, moving portrait of a family, infused by Bohjalian’s moral complexity and narrative assurance.