One of the Sunday Times's Top Fifty Summer reads - 'Extravagant portrait of . . . power and decadence'
In the Name of the Family - as Blood and Beauty did before - holds up a mirror to a turbulent moment of history, sweeping aside the myths to bring alive the real Borgia family; complicated, brutal, passionate and glorious. Here is a thrilling exploration of the House of Borgia's doomed years, in the company of a young diplomat named Niccolo Machiavelli.
It is 1502 and Rodrigo Borgia, a self-confessed womaniser and master of political corruption is now on the Papal throne as Alexander VI. His daughter Lucrezia, aged twenty-two, already thrice married and a pawn in her father's plans, is discovering her own power. And then there is Cesare Borgia: brilliant, ruthless and increasingly unstable; it is his relationship with the diplomat Machiavelli which offers a master class on 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 increasing maverick behavior it is Lucrezia who will become the Borgia survivor: taking on her enemies and creating her own place in history.
Conjuring up the past in all its complexity, horror and pleasures, In The Name of the Family confirms Sarah Dunant's place as the leading novelist of the Renaissance and one of the most acclaimed historical fiction writers of our age.
Sarah Dunant is a cultural commentator, award-winning thriller writer and author of a trilogy of novels set in renaissance Italy exploring women's lives through art, sex and religion.
Sarah Dunant's sparkling novel, In the Name of the Family, is girded by a keen political intelligence and a stunning feel for Italy in the years around 1500 — Lauro Martines, Emeritus Professor off European history at University of California and one of world's foremost authorities on the Italian Renaissance
A thrilling period vividly brought to life — Woman & Home
Reading In the Name of the Family, I began to smell the scent of oranges and wood smoke on the Ferrara breeze. Such 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 — National Public Radio, USA
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 — Washington Post
As vivid a recreation of the Renaissance past as its predecessor — Sunday Times
"Which one of us will go down in history?" asks Cesare of Machiavelli. There are many words written about both men in fiction and non-fiction. However Dunant has a storyteller's instincts for the telling detail and the broad sweep of history. This, and her glorious prose make Dunant's version irresistible — Antonia Senior, The Times
An intimate knowledge of Renaissance history powers a story crackling with energy — Elizabeth Buchan, Daily Mail
What distinguishes and elevates to the first order Sarah Dunant's series of five novels set in Renaissance Italy is that she combines flawless historical scholarship with beguiling storytelling . . . Dunant is sensitive to
contemporary echoes and so offers into the bargain a lesson from history for our divided age
Dunant has made completely her own the story of Italy's most infamous ruling family. Retaining the knack for plotting and pacing from the crime novels that began her career, she depicts history in a way that we can see, hear and smell . . . Dunant's Italian novels are an enthralling education — Mark Lawson, Guardian
For the last 14 years, her historical fiction has been coming close to doing for Renaissance Italy what Hilary Mantel has done for Tudor England. So deeply does she burrow into the past that her readers are able to imagine it almost as clearly as if it were the present, reinvesting it with that knifeedge uncertainty with which we ourselves imagine the future . . . This is Dunant's fifth Renaissance novel, and like the rest sparkles with the kind of details that fires the imagination — Herald
Sarah Dunant's blood-drenched tale about the Borgias is gripping . . . Dunant's poetic style raises the novel above titillating gossip, and her striking imagery renders it as rich as a Pinturicchio fresco — Scotsman
Open it, and become utterly swept up; then, spend the next three days on Wikipedia googling Every. Single. Character. — Emerald Street
This is Dunant's genius: her ability to piece together fragmentary, disparate sources and conjure up a compelling and convincing narrative — History Today
It is a cracking story, stuffed with violence, danger and passion, and it will keep you pinned to your pool chair long after the sun has gone down — Daily Mail
Dunant shrewdly explores human vice and virtue as she charts a godless society orbiting around Pope Alexander VI and his daughter Lucrezia . . . In the Name of the Family contains multiple characters and plots, all of which are thoroughly researched and slickly interwoven . . . Dunant's writing is fast-paced, lusty, illustrative and exciting — Literary Review
Doing what Hilary Mantel did for Thomas Cromwell, Sarah Dunant tackles the lives of Niccoló Machiavelli, the Borgias... with total ease. Open it, and become utterly swept up, then, spend the next three days on Wikipedia googling Every. Single. Character. — Emerald Street