The Deadly Sisterhood by Leonie Frieda

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Interesting book, a drama on a grand scale sweeping tale involving corrupt monarchs, finest thinkers, brilliant artists and the greatest beauties in Christendom. . However, the title is very misleading.
A title such as The Deadly Sisterhood: A story of Women, Power and Intrigue in the Italian Renaissance promised me the stories of eight remarkable women of the Renaissance, all joined by birth, marriage and friendship and who ruled for a time in place of their men-folk – women such as Lucrezia Tornabuoni (Queen Mother of Florence, the power behind the Medici throne), Clarice Orsini (Roman princess, feudal wife), Beatrice d’Este (Golden Girl of the Renaissance), Caterina Sforza (Lioness of the Romagna), Isabella d’Este (the Acquisitive Marchesa), Giulia Farnese (‘la bella’, the family asset), Isabella d’Aragona (the Weeping Duchess) and Lucrezia Borgia (the Virtuous Fury), but instead, it is a book about women (an men) in the Renaissance.
Of course, major figures such as Caterina Sforza, Lucrezia Borgia and Beatrice and Isabella d’Este feature prominently (Frieda doesn’t make a secret of her deep dislike for Isabella, an opinion that after once or twice mentions becomes annoying…), but there were already plenty of books about them without the need of another one added to the list. Also, in the paperback edition, there are no illustrations, despite the inclusion of a detailed list.
This said it is an interesting book – a sweeping panoramic view on the lives of some outstanding players of the Renaissance, who wielded the real power behind the throne and whose fates entwined with each other as Christendom emerged from the shadows of the calamitous 14th century.

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