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Lucrezia Borgia and the Mother of Poisons

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"Poisoner!" The bellowed accusation strikes into silence all those in Lucrezia Borgia's audience chamber. Lucrezia has fled Rome to a loveless marriage with Alfonso, heir to the duke of Ferrara, to escape the rumors that she is utterly depraved---incestuous, a lecher, a poisoner. To her delight she is warmly welcomed in Ferrara, by the duke, by his court, by the people, ind "Poisoner!" The bellowed accusation strikes into silence all those in Lucrezia Borgia's audience chamber. Lucrezia has fled Rome to a loveless marriage with Alfonso, heir to the duke of Ferrara, to escape the rumors that she is utterly depraved---incestuous, a lecher, a poisoner. To her delight she is warmly welcomed in Ferrara, by the duke, by his court, by the people, indeed by everyone except her husband. And then, after only six weeks of basking in the warmth of general approval, Alfonso rushes into her apartment and accuses her of poisoning Bianca Tedaldo, one of her ladies in waiting and mistress to Alfonso. Immediately, Lucrezia sees the nightmare of her life in Rome recurring. The whispers behind her back, the signs to ward off evil, people making out their wills when she invites them to share a meal. To deny the charge is useless. Lucrezia knows all too well the futility of claiming innocence even when the claim is clearly and plainly true. The only way for her to retrieve her reputation is to discover who committed the crime and expose the true murderer.


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"Poisoner!" The bellowed accusation strikes into silence all those in Lucrezia Borgia's audience chamber. Lucrezia has fled Rome to a loveless marriage with Alfonso, heir to the duke of Ferrara, to escape the rumors that she is utterly depraved---incestuous, a lecher, a poisoner. To her delight she is warmly welcomed in Ferrara, by the duke, by his court, by the people, ind "Poisoner!" The bellowed accusation strikes into silence all those in Lucrezia Borgia's audience chamber. Lucrezia has fled Rome to a loveless marriage with Alfonso, heir to the duke of Ferrara, to escape the rumors that she is utterly depraved---incestuous, a lecher, a poisoner. To her delight she is warmly welcomed in Ferrara, by the duke, by his court, by the people, indeed by everyone except her husband. And then, after only six weeks of basking in the warmth of general approval, Alfonso rushes into her apartment and accuses her of poisoning Bianca Tedaldo, one of her ladies in waiting and mistress to Alfonso. Immediately, Lucrezia sees the nightmare of her life in Rome recurring. The whispers behind her back, the signs to ward off evil, people making out their wills when she invites them to share a meal. To deny the charge is useless. Lucrezia knows all too well the futility of claiming innocence even when the claim is clearly and plainly true. The only way for her to retrieve her reputation is to discover who committed the crime and expose the true murderer.

30 review for Lucrezia Borgia and the Mother of Poisons

  1. 5 out of 5

    Lissa

    I liked the Madgdaline books better. This was entertaining. I figured out the murderer about 1/2 way through the book. And Lucrezia and her husband's personalities were simplified to be mostly good people without any poltical interests. I think that if they had been more complex, they would have been more interesting but harder to be straight forward hero and heroine. I liked the Madgdaline books better. This was entertaining. I figured out the murderer about 1/2 way through the book. And Lucrezia and her husband's personalities were simplified to be mostly good people without any poltical interests. I think that if they had been more complex, they would have been more interesting but harder to be straight forward hero and heroine.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Rebeccahodge

    I kept reading this book hoping it would get better. Unfortunately, it did not.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Chana

    I found the book boring, although actually the history is interesting. The book is too wordy but says too little, it is tedious reading because it is both convoluted in its schemes and confusing in its details. I did like the information about the clothing, our clothes are so boring in comparison, even the current Royal's clothing is simple and boring compared to what royalty wore in the 1500's. Also, Lucrezia Borgia was a complex woman from a background that I feel needs more exploring. The boo I found the book boring, although actually the history is interesting. The book is too wordy but says too little, it is tedious reading because it is both convoluted in its schemes and confusing in its details. I did like the information about the clothing, our clothes are so boring in comparison, even the current Royal's clothing is simple and boring compared to what royalty wore in the 1500's. Also, Lucrezia Borgia was a complex woman from a background that I feel needs more exploring. The book simplified her and made her a righteous person which I am not so sure that she was. Next time I want to read about Lucrezia Borgia I think I will pick a history book. (It may be that I would have liked the book better if I felt well and my eyes were not bothering me, admittedly my concentration is impaired and the words are blurring on the page)

  4. 5 out of 5

    Rina

    In this most engaging medieval novel of Lucrezia Borgia she attempts to solve a murder and is eventually successful. My knowledge of her is that her family arranged several marriages for her for political reasons. Her father was Pope Alexander VI. In this book she is portrayed as a thinking woman, something very unusual in her time, as well as being well liked and respected in her home in Ferrara, to her third husband Alfonso d'Este. The story takes place in approximately 1502-3 and the historic In this most engaging medieval novel of Lucrezia Borgia she attempts to solve a murder and is eventually successful. My knowledge of her is that her family arranged several marriages for her for political reasons. Her father was Pope Alexander VI. In this book she is portrayed as a thinking woman, something very unusual in her time, as well as being well liked and respected in her home in Ferrara, to her third husband Alfonso d'Este. The story takes place in approximately 1502-3 and the historical descriptions of life at "court", their clothing, her ladies-in-waiting, et al all made the mystery more interesting. I would not liked to have to dress like the upper classes nor the poorer classes! LOL.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Mary Kate

    This is one of Roberta Gellis' stand-alone books and is a fabulous read. Roberta Gellis is a learned author and gives a different take on Lucrezia Borgia. I don't think we, in the modern world, appreciate how constrained women were in medieval times. Robert Gellis does a fine job with this. This is one of Roberta Gellis' stand-alone books and is a fabulous read. Roberta Gellis is a learned author and gives a different take on Lucrezia Borgia. I don't think we, in the modern world, appreciate how constrained women were in medieval times. Robert Gellis does a fine job with this.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Christa Sigman

    I love a story that grabs my attention from the beginning and keeps me wondering until the very end. This one did that. It also had the combined elements of romance, and historical accuracy. I honestly could not stop reading. When I had to stop reading, I kept thinking about it!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Dian

    I really enjoy Roberta Gellis and almost everything she writes.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Tomi

    Meh. The author spent as much time describing the clothes worn by the characters as she did the mystery.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Traci Fontenot

    I read this a few years ago and it was one of those books that I kept at only because I needed to see if it got better. I was bored the entire book. Not for me.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Erika Williams

    Lucrezia Borgia. Adulteress? Maybe. Poisoner and lover of Cesare and their father? Definitely not according to this novel. At first I found myself skeptical of a book portraying Lucrezia as an innocent victim, but I found myself enjoying it far more than some of the other Borgia novels I’ve read recently. Here we have a Lucrezia who is nothing more than a pawn in her family’s schemes and a victim of malicious rumors that she is all too willing to escape. However, her retirement to Ferrara is sho Lucrezia Borgia. Adulteress? Maybe. Poisoner and lover of Cesare and their father? Definitely not according to this novel. At first I found myself skeptical of a book portraying Lucrezia as an innocent victim, but I found myself enjoying it far more than some of the other Borgia novels I’ve read recently. Here we have a Lucrezia who is nothing more than a pawn in her family’s schemes and a victim of malicious rumors that she is all too willing to escape. However, her retirement to Ferrara is short-lived when one of her ladies in waiting is killed via poison and her new husband publically accuses her of performing the deed. Now those nasty rumors she travelled halfway across the country to escape are bound to spring up again, because, quite frankly, she had not exactly been welcoming to the ladies appointed to her. So, in order to save her own reputation, she dons her Nancy Drew clothes, several times in loving details, and with her four fondest ladies, Angela, Shadow of Angela, Guilio and Ferrante, begins a several day investigation. I include Guilio and Ferrante as her ladies because they serve much the same purpose; ie being generally air-headed and gathering court gossip. Which leads me to my only real complaint about the book. The story is basically the Italian Renaissance version of Larry Boy and the Rumor Weed, and Lucrezia laments several times about how rumors ruined her Roman life. Yet while the air-heads are joking about the original creeper trying to peer up men’s skirts at their privates, she remarks to the reader that Ferrante was rumored to have a fondness for pretty boys. Which has absolutely no relevance to the rest of the plot. At all. In fact, he spends the rest of the time trying to bang Shadow of Angela. Lucrezia even asks her later about how she swats away his amorous advances. Treatment of Ferrante aside, let’s get back to the plot. Lucrezia seems to be getting nowhere with her investigation until she discovers the identity of the dead woman’s lover. All the nasty ladies in waiting she interviews seem to have solid alibis for the time of the murder. Attempts on her life are made, and then another murder occurs! This time her main suspect is murdered at a masquerade, stabbed in the throat supposedly by Alsonso’s younger brother. Balls. Another attempt is made on her life, and Lucrezia and the physician discover how the poison was administered, which again broadens the suspect list. Poisoned lotion! Remember, never accept medication from anyone other than a licensed physician. Lucrezia deduces it was a woman because only a woman could have possibly impersonated Alfonso’s youngest brother. But all her ladies were accounted for at the time of the second murder. (view spoiler)[Surprise! One of her ladies makes perfumes and lotions and has a bastard sister who looks remarkably like her. Turns out the poor dead woman was about to marry a Florentine and the murderess wanted to stop the marriage so she could marry him and reclaim her family’s lost property. Busted. So the woman is apprehended, and Lucrezia and Alfonso are reconciled. (hide spoiler)] And no, I don’t believe Ferrante ever succeeded in banging Shadow of Angela. Maybe he wasn’t trying that hard, or maybe it’s too hard to bang someone without a personality. Throughout it all, the only character who gets any development is Lucrezia. The rest feel like paper dolls the author decided she wanted to play with, even if she didn’t like some of them , because they came in a set. Lucrezia herself is a lot like that Bon Jovi song, “Bounce”. Not only does she bounce back from whatever those petty rumors throw at her, she likes it rough. Like, two pages detailing how excited she gets when her great bear of a husband comes to her bedchamber in a temper.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Taylor

    My Review: I stumbled upon this book one day while browsing a local used bookstore and I immediately snatched it up because it was about Lucrezia Borgia. With all the recent Borgia talk and never having read about them I knew I had to get this book. This book is set in 1501 and Lucrezia Borgia has just married her third husband, Alfonso Ferrara. Bianca Tedaldo has just been murdered and Lucrezia is being blamed by none other than her husband Alfonso. Rumor has it that Donna Bianca is or was Alfo My Review: I stumbled upon this book one day while browsing a local used bookstore and I immediately snatched it up because it was about Lucrezia Borgia. With all the recent Borgia talk and never having read about them I knew I had to get this book. This book is set in 1501 and Lucrezia Borgia has just married her third husband, Alfonso Ferrara. Bianca Tedaldo has just been murdered and Lucrezia is being blamed by none other than her husband Alfonso. Rumor has it that Donna Bianca is or was Alfonso’s mistress so the finger is being pointed in Lrecrizia’s direction since everyone believes she had a motive for killing her out of jealousy. Lucrezia is appalled at such outrageous accusations, which could not be further from the truth. In order to clear her good name, Lucrezia makes it her duty to find the true murderer and bring them to justice. What she wasn’t ready for was what would be revealed and the consequences for delving deep into Donna Bianca’s life. Once her number one suspect winds up stabbed to death it occurs to Lucrezia that the reasoning for Donna Bianca’s murder goes much deeper than anything she ever suspected before. Who is the true killer and could it be someone close to Lucrezia that she never would have suspected? My opinion: While overall I enjoyed the book I couldn’t help but be a little disappointed with it. I came so close to putting this book down so many times in the beginning. It started out very slow and dry. The conversation kept going around in circles that I began to fall asleep out of boredom and frustration. However, I didn’t give up on this book because it eventually picked up steam and got very suspenseful and thrilling. With every turn and twist there became a new suspect and a new lead to follow. I would say if you can get past a couple of the boring parts maybe by doing a little daydreaming like I did, then it’s worth reading because it did have some very exciting and “oh no” or “oh crap” moments which spurred me forward. This isn’t a book I would suggest rushing out right now and getting, however, if you have some down time then it’s worth reading. To read more of my reviews visit my Historical Fiction site: http://allthingshistoricalfiction.blo...

  12. 5 out of 5

    Cat.

    One of the newish breed of mysteries in which a historical personage is imagined into a detective. This time we've gone back to Renaissance Italy where we find Lucrezia Borgia settling into her third marriage. Her husband is the heir to Ferrara, and while she admires him, their union is solidly political not a love match. Luckily, for her, she is pregnant which brings some safety of position. However, the rumors of her past life in Rome have followed her, and when one of the court ladies is murd One of the newish breed of mysteries in which a historical personage is imagined into a detective. This time we've gone back to Renaissance Italy where we find Lucrezia Borgia settling into her third marriage. Her husband is the heir to Ferrara, and while she admires him, their union is solidly political not a love match. Luckily, for her, she is pregnant which brings some safety of position. However, the rumors of her past life in Rome have followed her, and when one of the court ladies is murdered, she is cast as a suspect immediately. The charge is almost immediately retracted, but she is determined to find the actual murderer so that the rumor mill in Ferrara doesn't begin to churn her reputation to bits in her new home. The mystery is pretty facile, but the historical details about court life in this era is detailed and rich. This is one of those rare books that make you want to do research to clarify some of the details: how were clothes put together, why was she so slandered in Rome, who were her first two husbands... I will look for more in this series (at least I hope it's a series!).

  13. 4 out of 5

    Diana Sandberg

    Sigh. People whose opinions I trust have repeatedly praised this book, but I would only give it a middling rating. I found the characters mildly amusing but fairly thin and the mystery muddy. We scarcely met the perpetrator, the clues were fairly obvious, although there was one rather good red herring – I was sure all the to-do about Lucrezia and one of her women secretly acquiring wigs so they could go to a masked ball disguised more or less as each other was a prelude to the lady being murdere Sigh. People whose opinions I trust have repeatedly praised this book, but I would only give it a middling rating. I found the characters mildly amusing but fairly thin and the mystery muddy. We scarcely met the perpetrator, the clues were fairly obvious, although there was one rather good red herring – I was sure all the to-do about Lucrezia and one of her women secretly acquiring wigs so they could go to a masked ball disguised more or less as each other was a prelude to the lady being murdered, but it didn’t happen. Gellis has a satisfactory vocabulary and has, I surmise, done her research; the setting in Renaissance Ferrara is reasonably interesting. I also liked the depiction of Lucrezia’s growing relationship with her husband; interesting, because I could believe her positive attitude toward a man I would find purely revolting. Still, overall, not really engaging. I much prefer her 12th century English series, at least the first one, A Mortal Bane, which I found to be good fun.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Renae

    This book had some interesting parts...but they were mixed with some shifts in tone that bothered me. I was expecting a more serious tone to this book, and too many times the heroine seemed more like she was playing at solving a murder. It was just odd. And the ending was irritating to me. Not what I was hoping it would be. Further, would it have killed them to provide some sort of dramatis personae to let us know who the hell was who? There were just way too many people to keep track of. Odd.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Desiree

    Enjoyable, especially the glimpse into 'the way things were' which always intrigues me in historical fiction. Obviously not for most menfolk, but the author describes Lucrezia's intricate dresses and the ways of the court in exquisite detail. I'm not usually one for 'whodunits' and I suppose it's no surprise that I found the plot, characters and setting to be somewhat less well-conceived than I'd like. Still, altogether enjoyable and entertaining. Enjoyable, especially the glimpse into 'the way things were' which always intrigues me in historical fiction. Obviously not for most menfolk, but the author describes Lucrezia's intricate dresses and the ways of the court in exquisite detail. I'm not usually one for 'whodunits' and I suppose it's no surprise that I found the plot, characters and setting to be somewhat less well-conceived than I'd like. Still, altogether enjoyable and entertaining.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    This book was a lot of fun, and had history, a mystery, and a little romance. My only complaint is that why Lucrezia's husband accused her of murder in the first scene was never explained, although I can make a guess. I wish that this had been the beginning of a series, because the characters were believable and fully fleshed out, and I enjoyed imagining what life was like during the Renaissance in Italy. This book was a lot of fun, and had history, a mystery, and a little romance. My only complaint is that why Lucrezia's husband accused her of murder in the first scene was never explained, although I can make a guess. I wish that this had been the beginning of a series, because the characters were believable and fully fleshed out, and I enjoyed imagining what life was like during the Renaissance in Italy.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Nathalie Nelson

    It was fun to read but it can't be taken seriously. History has a completely different view of Lucrezia Borgia and I think history is more to be believed than this simplified, cleaned-up version of her. There was a mystery to be unravelled that added to the fun. I learned that in the fifteen hundreds dresses came with detachable sleeves and so the style of the dress could be changed according to which sleeves one used. It was fun to read but it can't be taken seriously. History has a completely different view of Lucrezia Borgia and I think history is more to be believed than this simplified, cleaned-up version of her. There was a mystery to be unravelled that added to the fun. I learned that in the fifteen hundreds dresses came with detachable sleeves and so the style of the dress could be changed according to which sleeves one used.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Cameron

    P. straightforward historical murder mystery. I can't speak to historical accuracy of it but I found it a fairly light read with some interesting tidbits about Renaissance Italian fashions and such. I liked the wholesome characterization of Lucrezia if only because it was a take on her I've never seen explored before. Not a bad way to pass a slow weekend morning or bus ride. P. straightforward historical murder mystery. I can't speak to historical accuracy of it but I found it a fairly light read with some interesting tidbits about Renaissance Italian fashions and such. I liked the wholesome characterization of Lucrezia if only because it was a take on her I've never seen explored before. Not a bad way to pass a slow weekend morning or bus ride.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sandy

    This was an interesting book that featured Lucrezia Borgia as the heroine as she tries to solve a murder at the court of the Duke of Ferrara. Although the murder itself was not a mystery the guilty party was and there were a lot of details throughout the book that I enjoyed.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Wen

    I liked this book once I got into it. It was the first historical fiction book that was a mystery I had read. Was an entertaining twist on the regular historical fictions. Well worth the read.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Katelin

    This historical-fiction-mystery is a fun read. It's a good murder-mystery with plenty of twists and turns along the way. I enjoyed it very much. This historical-fiction-mystery is a fun read. It's a good murder-mystery with plenty of twists and turns along the way. I enjoyed it very much.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Shawna

    Couldn't get into this one, either. Maybe due to Lucrezia Borgia fact burnout. I've been reading nonfiction about her, and maybe I'm just overloaded. Couldn't get into this one, either. Maybe due to Lucrezia Borgia fact burnout. I've been reading nonfiction about her, and maybe I'm just overloaded.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    It's hard to imagine a boring book about Lucrezia Borgia, especially written by someone as talented as Roberta Gellis, but this is it. It's hard to imagine a boring book about Lucrezia Borgia, especially written by someone as talented as Roberta Gellis, but this is it.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kat

    Fun enough, but not the best in this genre. Definitely fun to read about Lucrezia, though. I'm surprised there's not more about her. Fun enough, but not the best in this genre. Definitely fun to read about Lucrezia, though. I'm surprised there's not more about her.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

    Boring & long winded, she spent most of the book repeating the same 4 things over & over until a sudden reveal at the end.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Holly Myles

    I

  27. 5 out of 5

    Robin

    More a who dunnit with Lucrezia Borgia trying to find out who murdered one of her ladies in waiting than a plain historical fiction novel. Just ok.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kathie

    Not worth reading. Lucrezia Borgia was not known for being a mystery solving rich woman. sort of a historical Murder She Wrote but not as interesting. Silly book.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Carla Horan

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jennie

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