Sarah Dunant

The Borgias – What a Family. And an Apology

So, after a resounding silence of almost two years I am coming up for air to say thank you to all who have written. Forgive me if my replies have been slow. Writing is the most all consuming job and I find it so painful to have to leave and return to it, that while I am “in” everything else gets a little lost. I wish I could do it differently, but I can’t.

Blood and Beauty is now finished ( bar a few proof edits and a better map – this is Italy as you have never seen it before) and the clock ticking on publication; May in England. July in America and Canada. Many of you will come to this family with images and thoughts from things written , old history or the recent sky TV series.  All I can say is – suspend everything you think you know and let the novel paint the world and the people for you.  In so far as it is possible ( of course we never know everything about the past – and this is certainly so when it comes to the Borgias) I have set out to be as true to the real history as we know it , even down to real words spoken or written by and about them.  And the story that emerges… well I really I think it is more complex,  more satisfying and more compelling than anything you will have learned in the past.

There is a big debate to be had on how far historical fiction is fiction or history. And what is the responsibility of the novelist to balance imagination with facts.  As those who know my work will appreciate this is the first time I have written entirely about “real people” and that has been the biggest challenge. To bring them alive for a modern reader while still being true to their roots and moment within history. (which despite all of having the same emotions, often makes them “different” in some ways from us). It has been an exhausting but  fascinating journey.  I hope the result is worth it.  I have no doubt you will tell me.

My web site will be moving within the next month to a different format, but I will move with it. And talk as I go about the journeys I made through modern Italy to find the past – and how much of it is still there for you to see. I hope you will join me for the ride.

Thank you all


Why the Borgias?

Is there a family in history more dazzling, dangerous and notorious than the Borgias?

A powerhouse of the Italian Renaissance, the very name Borgia epitomises the ruthless behaviour and sexual corruption of the Papacy.

The father, Pope Alexander VI, a consummate politician and a man with a voracious appetite both for politics and women.

His eldest son Cesare, a dazzlingly cold intelligence with an even colder soul, whose military zeal is immortalised in Machiavelli’s The Prince.

The younger Juan, womanizer and thug, who brings destruction down on his own head.

And their lovely sister, Lucrezia, whose very name has become a byword for poison, incest and intrigue.

But how much of the history about this remarkable family is actually true, and how much distorted, filtered through the age old mechanisms of political spin, propaganda and gossip?

What if the truth, the real history, is even more challenging?

“Blood & Beauty: The Borgias” an epic novel which sets out to capture the scope, the detail, the depth, the colour and the complexity of this utterly fascinating family.