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The Birth of Venus (Random House Reader's Circle Deluxe Reading Group Edition)

The Birth of Venus (Random House Reader's Circle Deluxe Reading Group Edition)

Author: Sarah Dunant
Publisher: Random House
ISBN: 0679645497
Pages: 504
Year: 2012-03-12
This new deluxe eBook edition features more than eighty additional pages of exclusive, author-approved annotations throughout the text, which contain new illustrations and photographs, to enrich your reading experience. You can access the eBook annotations with a simple click or tap on your eReader via the convenient links. Access them as you read the novel or as supplemental material after finishing the entire story. There is also Random House Reader’s Circle bonus content, which is sure to inspire discussion at book clubs everywhere. Alessandra Cecchi is not quite fifteen when her father, a prosperous cloth merchant, brings a young painter back from northern Europe to decorate the chapel walls in the family’s Florence palazzo. A child of the Renaissance with a precocious mind and a talent for drawing, Alessandra is intoxicated by the artist’s abilities. But Alessandra’s parents have made plans for their daughter, and she is soon married off to a wealthy, much older man. Meanwhile, the reign of the Medicis, with their love of luxury, learning, and dazzling art, is being threatened by the hellfire preaching and increasing brutality of the fundamentalist monk Savonarola and his reactionary followers. As the city shudders with violence and change, Alessandra must find her own way—and finally explore the passions she’s kept so long at bay. “Simply amazing, so brilliantly written . . . almost intolerably exciting at times, and at others, equally poignant.”—Antonia Fraser “A broad mural bursting with color, passion, and intrigue.”—People
The Birth of Venus

The Birth of Venus

Author: Sarah Dunant
Publisher: Random House Incorporated
ISBN: 0812968972
Pages: 403
Year: 2004
Turning fifteen in Renaissance Florence, Alessandra Cecchi becomes intoxicated with the works of a young painter whom her father has brought to the city to decorate the family's Florentine palazzo, a situation that is complicated by her unwanted arranged marriage to an older man and a battle between the Medici family and the fundamentalist followers of Savonarola. Reader's Guide included. Reprint. 200,000 first printing.
Sacred Hearts

Sacred Hearts

Author: Sarah Dunant
Publisher: Random House Incorporated
ISBN: 1400063825
Pages: 415
Year: 2009
Condemned by sixteenth-century demands for lucrative dowries in order to marry, young Serafina is ripped from an illicit love affair and confined in a Renaissance Italy convent, a situation against which she passionately rebels and reminds the convent's doctor of her own unhappy early years. 200,000 first printing.
In the Company of the Courtesan

In the Company of the Courtesan

Author: Sarah Dunant
Publisher: Random House
ISBN: 1588365506
Pages: 384
Year: 2006-04-11
My lady, Fiammetta Bianchini, was plucking her eyebrows and biting color into her lips when the unthinkable happened and the Holy Roman Emperor’s army blew a hole in the wall of God’s eternal city, letting in a flood of half-starved, half-crazed troops bent on pillage and punishment. Thus begins In the Company of the Courtesan, Sarah Dunant’s epic novel of life in Renaissance Italy. Escaping the sack of Rome in 1527, with their stomachs churning on the jewels they have swallowed, the courtesan Fiammetta and her dwarf companion, Bucino, head for Venice, the shimmering city born out of water to become a miracle of east-west trade: rich and rancid, pious and profitable, beautiful and squalid. With a mix of courage and cunning they infiltrate Venetian society. Together they make the perfect partnership: the sharp-tongued, sharp-witted dwarf, and his vibrant mistress, trained from birth to charm, entertain, and satisfy men who have the money to support her. Yet as their fortunes rise, this perfect partnership comes under threat, from the searing passion of a lover who wants more than his allotted nights to the attentions of an admiring Turk in search of human novelties for his sultan’s court. But Fiammetta and Bucino’s greatest challenge comes from a young crippled woman, a blind healer who insinuates herself into their lives and hearts with devastating consequences for them all. A story of desire and deception, sin and religion, loyalty and friendship, In the Company of the Courtesan paints a portrait of one of the world’s greatest cities at its most potent moment in history: It is a picture that remains vivid long after the final page. From the Hardcover edition.
Mapping the Edge

Mapping the Edge

Author: Sarah Dunant
Publisher: Random House
ISBN: 0375506837
Pages: 320
Year: 2001-03-30
People go missing every day. They walk out of their front doors and out of their lives into the silence of cold statistics. For those left behind it is the cruelest of long good-byes. Anna, a self-sufficient and reliable single mother, packs her bags one day for a short vacation to Italy. She leaves her beloved six-year-old daughter, Lily, at home in London with good friends. But when Anna doesn't return, everyone begins to make excuses until the likelihood that she might not come back becomes chillingly clear. And the people who thought they knew Anna best realize they don't know her at all. How could she leave her daughter? Why doesn't she call? Is she enjoying a romantic tryst with a secret lover? Or has she been abducted or even killed by a disturbed stranger? Did that person you loved so much and thought you knew so well did they simply choose to go and not come back? Or did someone do the choosing for them? Dunant, a masterly British suspense writer, skillfully interweaves parallel narratives that are stretched taut with tension even as they raise difficult questions about motherhood, friendship, and accountability. In this compelling hybrid of sophisticated crime writing and modern women's fiction, Dunant challenges and unnerves us as she redefines the boundaries of the psychological thriller. Missing rubs the soul raw. In place of answers all you have is your imagination.
To Dance with Kings

To Dance with Kings

Author: Rosalind Laker
Publisher: Broadway Books
ISBN: 0307352552
Pages: 616
Year: 2007
The lives and destinies of four generations of determined women are set against the splendor of Versailles through the reigns of France's most spectacular Bourbon kings, from Marguerite, the peasant girl who becomes part of the royal court of the Sun King, to Rose, who becomes lady-in-waiting and confidante to Marie Antoinette. Reprint. 40,000 first printing.
Wife 22

Wife 22

Author: Melanie Gideon
Publisher: Ballantine Books
ISBN: 0345527968
Pages: 393
Year: 2013-02-12
Baring her soul in an anonymous survey for a marital happiness study, Alice catalogues her stale marriage, unsatisfying job and unfavorable prospects and begins to question virtually every aspect of her life. A first adult novel by the best-selling author of The Slippery Year. 75,000 first printing.
Mary, Queen of France

Mary, Queen of France

Author: Jean Plaidy
Publisher: Broadway Books
ISBN: 0307496708
Pages: 304
Year: 2010-05-05
Legendary historical novelist Jean Plaidy brings to life the story of Princess Mary Tudor, a celebrated beauty and born rebel who would defy the most powerful king in Europe—her older brother. Princess Mary Rose is the youngest sister of Henry VIII, and one of the few people whom he adores unconditionally. Known throughout Europe for her charm and good looks, Mary is the golden child of the Tudor family and is granted her every wish. Except when it comes to marriage. Henry VIII, locked in a political showdown with France, decides to offer up his pampered baby sister to secure peace between the two mighty kingdoms. Innocent, teenage Mary must become the wife of the elderly King Louis, a toothless, ailing man in his sixties. Horrified and furious, Mary has no choice but to sail for France. There she hones her political skills, bides her time, and remains secretly in love with Charles Brandon, the Duke of Suffolk. When King Louis dies, after only two years of marriage, Mary is determined not to be sold into another unhappy union. She must act quickly; if she wants to be with the man she truly loves, she must defy the laws of church and state by marrying without her brother’s permission. Together, Mary and Charles devise a scheme to outwit the most ruthless king in Europe and gain their hearts’ desire, not knowing if it will lead to marital bliss or certain death. From the Trade Paperback edition.
Leonardo's Swans

Leonardo's Swans

Author: Karen Essex
Publisher: Anchor
ISBN: 0385517661
Pages: 352
Year: 2006-01-10
Isabelle d’Este, daughter of the Duke of Ferrara, born into privilege and the political and artistic turbulence of Renaissance Italy, is a stunning black-eyed blond and an art lover and collector. Worldly and ambitious, she has never envied her less attractive sister, the spirited but naïve Beatrice, until, by a quirk of fate, Beatrice is betrothed to the future Duke of Milan. Although he is more than twice their age, openly lives with his mistress, and is reputedly trying to eliminate the current duke by nefarious means, Ludovico Sforza is Isabella’s match in intellect and passion for all things of beauty. Only he would allow her to fulfill her destiny: to reign over one of the world’s most powerful and enlightened realms and be immortalized in oil by the genius Leonardo da Vinci. Isabella vows that she will not rest until she wins her true fate, and the two sisters compete for supremacy in the illustrious courts of Europe. A haunting novel of rivalry, love, and betrayal that transports you back to Renaissance Italy, Leonardo’s Swans will have you dashing to the works of the great master—not for clues to a mystery but to contemplate the secrets of the human heart. From the Trade Paperback edition.
Blood and Beauty

Blood and Beauty

Author: Sarah Dunant
Publisher: Random House
ISBN: 0679603867
Pages: 544
Year: 2013-07-16
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY KIRKUS REVIEWS The New York Times bestselling author of the acclaimed Italian Renaissance novels—The Birth of Venus, In the Company of the Courtesan, and Sacred Hearts—has an exceptional talent for breathing life into history. Now Sarah Dunant turns her discerning eye to one of the world’s most intriguing and infamous families—the Borgias—in an engrossing work of literary fiction. By the end of the fifteenth century, the beauty and creativity of Italy is matched by its brutality and corruption, nowhere more than in Rome and inside the Church. When Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia buys his way into the papacy as Alexander VI, he is defined not just by his wealth or his passionate love for his illegitimate children, but by his blood: He is a Spanish Pope in a city run by Italians. If the Borgias are to triumph, this charismatic, consummate politician with a huge appetite for life, women, and power must use papacy and family—in particular, his eldest son, Cesare, and his daughter Lucrezia—in order to succeed. Cesare, with a dazzlingly cold intelligence and an even colder soul, is his greatest—though increasingly unstable—weapon. Later immortalized in Machiavelli’s The Prince, he provides the energy and the muscle. Lucrezia, beloved by both men, is the prime dynastic tool. Twelve years old when the novel opens, hers is a journey through three marriages, and from childish innocence to painful experience, from pawn to political player. Stripping away the myths around the Borgias, Blood & Beauty is a majestic novel that breathes life into this astonishing family and celebrates the raw power of history itself: compelling, complex and relentless. Look for special features inside. Join the Random House Reader’s Circle for author chats and more. “Dunant transforms the blackhearted Borgias and the conniving courtiers and cardinals of Renaissance Europe into fully rounded characters, brimming with life and lust.” —The New York Times Book Review “Like Hilary Mantel with her Cromwell trilogy, [Sarah] Dunant has scaled new heights by refashioning mythic figures according to contemporary literary taste. This intellectually satisfying historical saga, which offers blood and beauty certainly, but brains too, is surely the best thing she has done to date.” —The Miami Herald “Compelling female players have been a characteristic of Dunant’s earlier novels, and this new offering is no exception. . . . The members of this close-knit family emerge as dynamic characters, flawed but sympathetic, filled with fear and longing.” —The Seattle Times “Dazzling . . . a triumph on an epic scale . . . filled with rich detail and page-turning drama.” —BookPage “The Machiavellian atmosphere—hedonism, lust, political intrigue—is magnetic. . . . Readers won’t want the era of Borgia rule to end.” —People (four stars)
Transgressions

Transgressions

Author: Sarah Dunant
Publisher: Random House
ISBN: 1588364828
Pages: 368
Year: 2005-06-14
Elizabeth is a modern woman. Smart. Independent. As sexual as she wants to be–with whomever she wants to be. But a breakup with her academic boyfriend has hit her harder than she cares to admit. And while her latest gig, translating a glitzy Czech thriller into English, offends her literary sensibilities, it arouses others with its steamy scenes of eroticism, violence, submission, and dominance. Then, when her favorite Van Morrison CD disappears from its rack and her house is inexplicably violated, Elizabeth is afraid she’s starting to lose it–she even consults a local vicar about the possibility of poltergeists. But what this woman in the lovely Victorian is experiencing is not supernatural. Nor is it madness. For in the dead of night, she will suddenly come face-to-face with her tormentor. She will smell him, she will touch him, and she will make a choice. Then the real haunting will begin. From the Trade Paperback edition.
Black Glass

Black Glass

Author: Karen Joy Fowler
Publisher: Penguin
ISBN: 0399175792
Pages: 304
Year: 2015
An innovative, critically acclaimed collection of stories by the author of "The Sweetheart Season" and "Sarah Canary."
The Botticelli Secret

The Botticelli Secret

Author: Marina Fiorato
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
ISBN: 1429928808
Pages: 544
Year: 2010-03-30
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.
The Gondola Maker

The Gondola Maker

Author: Laura Morelli
Publisher: Laura Morelli
ISBN: 098936710X
Pages: 306
Year: 2014-03-03
Award-winning historical fiction set in 16th-century Venice -Benjamin Franklin Digital Award -IPPY Award for Best Adult Fiction E-book -National Indie Excellence Award Finalist -Eric Hoffer Award Finalist -Shortlisted for the da Vinci Eye Prize From the author of Made in Italy comes a tale of artisanal tradition and family bonds set in one of the world's most magnificent settings: Renaissance Venice. Venetian gondola-maker Luca Vianello considers his whole life arranged. His father charted a course for his eldest son from the day he was born, and Luca is positioned to inherit one of the city’s most esteemed boatyards. Soon he will marry the daughter of an artisan prow-maker, securing a key business alliance for the family. But when Luca experiences an unexpected tragedy in the boatyard, he believes that his destiny lies elsewhere. Soon he finds himself drawn to restore an antique gondola with the dream of taking a girl for a ride. The Gondola Maker brings the centuries-old art of gondola-making to life in the tale of a young man's complicated relationship with his master-craftsman father. Lovers of historical fiction will appreciate the authentic details of gondola craftsmanship, along with an intimate first-person narrative set against the richly textured backdrop of 16th-century Venice. "I'm a big fan of Venice, so I appreciate Laura Morelli's special knowledge of the city, the period, and the process of gondola-making. An especially compelling story." --Frances Mayes, author of Under the Tuscan Sun "Laura Morelli has done her research, or perhaps she was an Italian carpenter in another life. One can literally smell and feel the grain of finely turned wood in her hands." --Pamela Sheldon Johns, author of Italian Food Artisans "Romance, intrigue, family loyalty, pride, and redemption set against the backdrop of Renaissance Italy." --Library of Clean Reads "Beautiful, powerful evocation of the characters, the place, and the time. An elegant and thoroughly engaging narrative voice." --Mark Spencer, author of Fiction Club: A Concise Guide to Writing Good Fiction
In the Name of the Family

In the Name of the Family

Author: Sarah Dunant
Publisher: Random House
ISBN: 0812996984
Pages: 464
Year: 2017-03-07
Before the Corleones, before the Lannisters, there were the Borgias. One of history’s notorious families comes to life in a captivating novel from the author of The Birth of Venus. NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY COSMOPOLITAN (UK) AND THE TIMES (UK) “In the end, what’s a historical novelist’s obligation to the dead? Accuracy? Empathy? Justice? Or is it only to make them live again? Dunant pays these debts with a passion that makes me want to go straight out and read all her other books.”—Diana Gabaldon, The Washington Post Bestselling novelist Sarah Dunant has long been drawn to the high drama of Renaissance Italy: power, passion, beauty, brutality, and the ties of blood. With In the Name of the Family, she offers a thrilling exploration of the House of Borgia’s final years, in the company of a young diplomat named Niccolò Machiavelli. 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 in the dark arts of power and politics. What Machiavelli 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 erratic behavior, it is Lucrezia who must navigate the treacherous court of Urbino, her new home, and another challenging marriage to create her own place in history. Sarah Dunant again 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. “Enthralling . . . combines flawless historical scholarship with beguiling storytelling.”—The Guardian “Renaissance-rich details fill out the humanity of the Borgias, rendering them into the kind of relatable figures whom we would hope to discover behind the cold brilliance of The Prince.”—NPR “[Dunant] has an enviable command of this complex political scene, with its shifting alliances and subtle betrayals. . . . [She] has a special gift for attending to her female characters.”—The New York Times