Lucrezia Borgia

Lucrezia Borgia

Book - 2003
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Random House, Inc.
1. Lucrezia recalls her childhood as filled with such opulence, tenderness, and comfort that it becomes her lifelong model of Paradise, her Elysian Fields, compared to which everything else in life disappoints. Her first “adultish” memory is of a piercing desire, a hunger for her mother, father, and brother that is tinged with fear. How has this fear entered her childhood? Is she ever able to satisfy her hunger for her family? How does she attempt to re-create her Elysian Fields as an adult? Is she successful? 2. Throughout the novel, Lucrezia is plagued by the question of whether mind and soul are one and the same. After Cesare murders Mother Fortunata, Lucrezia has an epiphany about this question. What does she discover? How does the discovery affect her behavior thereafter? Does her answer to the mind/soul question change after her fateful meeting with little Lucrezia in the Sistine Chapel? 3. Why do the peasants Vanozza and Aristotle ask Lucrezia to deliver their babies? Why does she go along with it? What symbols does Lucrezia recognize in the experience? 4. After Lucrezia has murdered Bishop Allatri according to her father’s detailed instructions, and Cesare has thanked her for it, she tells herself, “I was sure of only one thing: I must not forget this lesson.” What is the lesson? 5. Lucrezia constantly struggles with the idea of fate, weighing her own power or powerlessness against it. Often she talks herself out of resisting fate: “I might fight this till the Last Judgment, but what would be would be . . . no matter what the truth, no matter what I do. It’s as impossible to resist God’s Desires as to deliver a child without pain or sorrow. Such anyway were my self-justifications for my weakness. I was about to give in.” Yet she knows that the term “God’s Desires” is often no more than a cover for Alexander’s or Cesare’s desires. By the end of the novel, has Lucrezia grown stronger in this struggle? Does she still believe in fate? 6. As Cesare’s behavior becomes increasingly violent, Lucrezia refuses to include her father in the blame. After the attack at the river, she asks herself, “None of this blood was his fault, was it?” At what point does Lucrezia begin to accept the fact that Alexander sanctions all of Cesare’s actions? Why doesn’t she tell her father about Alphonse’s murder and her own rape? Is she protecting Alexander at this point, or has she given up on him? 7. What do you make of Lucrezia’s tragic niece and namesake? Do you believe little Lucrezia when she claims that she is Cesare’s attempt to re-create the original Lucrezia all for himself? What ritual finally binds the two Lucrezias together? Why does Lucrezia coach her niece through the final act of murder, rather than doing it herself? 8. Why do you think Lucrezia chooses exile at the end, rather than living with her mother and son—both of whom she has missed desperately—now that she is free to do so? 9. Is Lucrezia guilty of complicity in Cesare’s megalomania? Why is she so enthralled by him when she’s known since the age of six that malice is a major component of his personality? Why can’t she separate herself from him? 10. Throughout the novel, the author uses modern words like “automaton,” “gasket,” “blockhead,” and “fire drill,” as well as modern expressions such as: “We need two screeching Cesares like We need another Crucifixion”; “It’s extraordinary, this brother-sister thing you two have”; “I ain’t doing nothing that guy didn’t tell us”; and “You guys were a big help.” Does this language make the fifteenth-century Italian story more accessible? 11. After Roderigo Borgia becomes Pope Alexander VI, Lucrezia becomes acquainted with what she calls the Pontius Pilate method of making state decisions. What is it? Does this discovery affect Lucrezia’s faith? Who else in the novel uses the Pontius Pilate method? 12. Discuss the significance of this line in Lucrezia’s description of the Electoral Consistory’s ritual of choosing a new pope:
Lucrezia Borgia is one of the most enigmatic and infamous women in history. Daughter of the spectacularly corrupt and ruthless Pope Alexander VI, and sister of the bloodthirsty Cesare Borgia, commander of the formidable Papal army, Lucrezia enjoyed a notorious reputation both in formal accounts and on graffiti walls throughout the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries in Italy. This guide is designed to help direct your reading group's discussion ofJohn Faunce's illuminating novel on this fascinating woman.

Baker & Taylor
A fictional portrait of Lucrezia Borgia, the illegitimate daughter of Pope Alexander VI, presents a woman trapped between her powerful family and her own desires during a life marked by divorce, debauchery, rumors of incest, and murder.

& Taylor

A fictional portrait of the infamous Lucrezia Borgia, the illegitimate daughter of Pope Alexander VI, presents a woman trapped between her powerful family and her own desires during a life marked by divorce, debauchery, rumors of incest, and murder. A first novel. 25,000 first printing.

Publisher: New York : Crown Publishers, [2003]
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2003
ISBN: 9780609609743
Branch Call Number: FIC Faunce, J 2003
Characteristics: 277 pages ; 25 cm


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