Three Books I have read recently
Sarah Dunant’s ‘Blood and Beauty ‘, Roger Scruton’s ‘How To Be A Conservative’ and Colm Toibin ‘The Testament of Mary.’
Dunant’s is the times of the Borgia family, in Renaissance Italy, one being the Pope . A romping good description of the raucous , morally corrupt family that took over the Papacy. Historical Fiction at its best.
Good Reads says:
‘Is there a family in history more dazzling, dangerous and notorious than the Borgias?
A powerhouse of the Italian Renaissance, their very name epitomizes the ruthless politics and sexual corruption of the Papacy.
The father, Pope Alexander VI, a consummate politician and a man with a voracious appetite both as Cardinal and Pope.
The younger Juan, womanizer and thug, and their lovely sister, Lucretia, whose very name has become a byword for poison, incest and intrigue.
But how much of the history about this remarkable family is actually true, and how much distorted, filtered through the age old mechanisms of political spin, propaganda and gossip?
What if the truth, the real history, is even more challenging?
“Blood & Beauty: The Borgias” is an epic novel which sets out to capture the scope, the detail, the depth, the colour and the complexity of this utterly fascinating family.’
Scruton’s on the philosophical thoughts underpinning Conservative thought . For the thoughtful who feel progressive thought unattractive.
‘What does it mean to be a conservative in an age so sceptical of conservatism? How can we live in the presence of our ‘canonized forefathers’ at a time when their cultural, religious and political bequest is so routinely rejected? With soft left-liberalism as the dominant force in Western politics, what can conservatives now contribute to public debate that will not be dismissed as pure nostalgia?
In this highly personal and witty book, renowned philosopher Roger Scruton explains how to live as a conservative in spite of the pressures to exist otherwise. Drawing on his own experience as a counter-cultural presence in public life, Scruton argues that while humanity might survive in the absence of the conservative outlook, it certainly won’t flourish.
How to be a conservative is not only a blueprint for modern conservatism. It is a heartfelt appeal on behalf of old fashioned decencies and values, which are the bedrock of our weakened, but still enduring civilization.’
And Toibin’s on the trials /life of Mary after the death of her son Jesus. A provocative different view of Mary and Jesus. One man’s tour de force, short listed for the Booker Prize.
Good Reads says :
‘Provocative, haunting, and indelible, Colm Tóibín’s portrait of Mary presents her as a solitary older woman still seeking to understand the events that become the narrative of the New Testament and the foundation of Christianity.
In the ancient town of Ephesus, Mary lives alone, years after her son’s crucifixion. She has no interest in collaborating with the authors of the Gospel—her keepers, who provide her with food and shelter and visit her regularly. She does not agree that her son is the Son of God; nor that his death was “worth it;” nor that the “group of misfits he gathered around him, men who could not look a woman in the eye,” were holy disciples. Mary judges herself ruthlessly (she did not stay at the foot of the Cross until her son died—she fled, to save herself), and is equally harsh on her judgment of others. This woman who we know from centuries of paintings and scripture as the docile, loving, silent, long-suffering, obedient, worshipful mother of Christ becomes, in Toibin’s searing evocation, a tragic heroine with the relentless eloquence of Electra or Medea or Antigone. This tour de force of imagination and language is a portrait so vivid and convincing that our image of Mary will be forever transformed. ‘