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The Scarlet Contessa

Cover of The Scarlet Contessa

The Scarlet Contessa

A Novel of the Italian Renaissance
Borrow Borrow

Historical fiction author Jeanne Kalogridis tells the remarkable story of Caterina Sforza, daughter of the Duke of Milan and the bravest warrior Renaissance Italy ever knew.

Daughter of the Duke of Milan and wife of the conniving Count Girolamo Riario, Caterina Sforza was the bravest warrior Renaissance Italy ever knew. She ruled her own lands, fought her own battles, and openly took lovers whenever she pleased.

Her remarkable tale is told by her lady-in-waiting, Dea, a woman knowledgeable in reading the "triumph cards," the predecessor of modern-day Tarot. As Dea tries to unravel the truth about her husband's murder, Caterina single-handedly holds off invaders who would steal her title and lands. However, Dea's reading of the cards reveals that Caterina cannot withstand a third and final invader—-none other than Cesare Borgia, son of the corrupt Pope Alexander VI, who has an old score to settle with Caterina. Trapped inside the Fortress at Ravaldino as Borgia's cannons pound the walls, Dea reviews Caterina's scandalous past and struggles to understand their joint destiny, while Caterina valiantly tries to fight off Borgia's unconquerable army.

Historical fiction author Jeanne Kalogridis tells the remarkable story of Caterina Sforza, daughter of the Duke of Milan and the bravest warrior Renaissance Italy ever knew.

Daughter of the Duke of Milan and wife of the conniving Count Girolamo Riario, Caterina Sforza was the bravest warrior Renaissance Italy ever knew. She ruled her own lands, fought her own battles, and openly took lovers whenever she pleased.

Her remarkable tale is told by her lady-in-waiting, Dea, a woman knowledgeable in reading the "triumph cards," the predecessor of modern-day Tarot. As Dea tries to unravel the truth about her husband's murder, Caterina single-handedly holds off invaders who would steal her title and lands. However, Dea's reading of the cards reveals that Caterina cannot withstand a third and final invader—-none other than Cesare Borgia, son of the corrupt Pope Alexander VI, who has an old score to settle with Caterina. Trapped inside the Fortress at Ravaldino as Borgia's cannons pound the walls, Dea reviews Caterina's scandalous past and struggles to understand their joint destiny, while Caterina valiantly tries to fight off Borgia's unconquerable army.

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  • Publisher's Weekly

    May 24, 2010
    This vividly rendered historical takes readers to tempestuous Renaissance Italy, where city-states and noble families battle for supremacy over Italy and, through the papacy, the world. Caterina Sforza comes into power by marrying the illegitimate son of Pope Sixtus, and while her husband is slothful and suspicious, Caterina is clever and ambitious, allying herself with powerful men to ensure her family's success throughout tumultuous times. Always by her side is her confidante, Dea, who has a gift for reading tarot cards, and, as our narrator, relates Caterina's struggles and schemes against a lush backdrop swarming with the most powerful families of the day—the Borgias and the Medicis, though these players, unfortunately, feel mostly like window dressing. Seeing the world through Dea's eyes only makes the reader yearn more to know what Caterina, who remains too much a mystery, is thinking. There's plenty of intrigue and conspiracy in the lusty plot, but the characters don't quite sing.

  • AudioFile Magazine Set during the Italian Renaissance, this historical novel delves into the political intrigue of nobility and city-states fighting to become the supreme political power of Italy, and, through the papacy, the world. Caterina Sforza, the Scarlet Contessa, marries the illegitimate son of Pope Sixtus and holds her own against the Borgias and the Medicis--the power-brokering families of the day. Wanda McCaddon tells this complicated story through the voice of Dea, Caterina's lady-in-waiting and confidante. In her voice we can hear Dea go from distrust and dislike to respect and admiration for her Lady, who navigates successfully through a sea of conspiracy and deceit. Sadly, in spite of the intriguing times and McCaddon's narration, the characters lack the depth to truly engage the listener. N.E.M. (c) AudioFile 2010, Portland, Maine
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The Scarlet Contessa
The Scarlet Contessa
A Novel of the Italian Renaissance
Jeanne Kalogridis
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