Saturday, September 21, 2013

Review of The Serpent and the Pearl by Kate Quinn Review by Judith Starkston

book cover image The Serpent and The Pearl Kate Quinn Poisoned PenRenaissance food in yummy detail, a sophisticated, lascivious pope and his gorgeous (not to mention smart and courageous) concubine, murders reflecting some fascinating if sick mental states, an ornery but lovable dwarf, a mummified saint’s hand with strong opinions—what is not to like about Kate Quinn’s foray into the world of the Borgias? I’ve enjoyed Quinn’s novels set in the Roman period and I viewed her defection from the ancient world with mixed feelings, but she is now forgiven. The Serpent and the Pearl is full of the trademark Quinn humor, quirky, complicated characters and colorful historical details. She skillfully develops the darkly cynical politics of Renaissance Rome and uses this backdrop to reveal what her characters often want to hide: their deep-seated humanity and golden hearts (often surrounded by a casing of well-earned bitterness). You’ll luxuriate in the silks and jewelry, you’ll positively salivate over the descriptions of authentic period food and its careful preparation (do visit Kate’s blog for some recipes), but mostly you’ll keep turning pages with a plot full of seductions and betrayals of every kind, not just the sexy sort. This is one very fun, adventurous read. Review by Judith Starkston

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