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Extended Audio Sample The Scarlet Contessa: A Novel of the Italian Renaissance Audiobook, by Jeanne Kalogridis Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (879 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Jeanne Kalogridis Narrator: Wanda McCaddon Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: July 2010 ISBN: 9781400187539
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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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Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Elli | 2/10/2014

    " I note that the author chooses to write about some of history's "bad" women. the Scarlet Contessa is about Caterina Sforza through the eyes of her prime lady in waiting. The Sforza family was one of the prime families in this period as well as the Medici's and the Borgia's, all of whom interract. The everyday lives and what is expected of the noble families including how much of their lives (including their very lives in any situation) belong to the liege lord (and lady). Right or wrong. Although I would give this 3 stars normally, I'm going to give it 4, because with even what I'd consider it's literary shortcomings, it had me really into it from beginning to end! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Heather Albano | 2/10/2014

    " I really wanted to like this, but it simply didn't hit hard enough. The premise was interesting and the last chapter was great; the ~400 pages in between were painfully slow, going through all the motions of a grand epic without the intensity of emotion, like watching one of the big mechanical critters in the second Star Wars movie pick up its leg and put its leg down again. Would have been better at half the length. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Angela Montgomery | 2/5/2014

    " This novel deals with the fascinating, and poorly known, Caterina Sforza. She is not a likeable person, which I think may ruin the novel for many. However, I think any historical fiction about the Italian Renaissance would have to include many unsavoury characters. They were all ruthless shits, no doubt. It is written through the perspective of her lady-in-waiting Dea, in contrast a rather insipid personality, but who is not? The cover is misleading. Do not read this book if you are expecting a Harlequin-like romance. Any love story is secondary. The book is marred by a strange ending where Dea seems to act quite out of character. Also, it is hard to understand throughout the book why she remains with Caterina. However, if you have any interest in historical fiction, especially anything set in the Renaissance, it is worth reading. I have yet to find any other books set in Italy during this time period. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Valerie | 2/5/2014

    " Good book - enjoyable to read about the history of Italy in that time period. Lots of political and church insights. Needed to keep a notebook with all the names of the people though - those Italian names are all so similar! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kandice | 1/31/2014

    " I enjoyed this book and the opportunity to explore a period of history that I hadn't studied much previously. While the main character of the book, the Contessa, wasn't quite as phenomenal as the flyleaf made her out to be, I did enjoy the narrator's character. Too bad Dea was fictional and the contessa genuine. I do find it interesting that so many of Kalogridis' books deal with magic and the supernatural. In reading other authors' books on the same characters, there isn't as much of this mentioned. It would be interesting to read some factual accounts of the same people in history to see if this is just the author's slant or if there is substantial proof that these people led such superstitious lives. Either way, this take on history always makes Kalogridis' books entertaining. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Edina Jambor | 1/28/2014

    " While the story and the historical connection was enjoyable, there were elements that were hard to follow. All the talk about secret codes, dark magic and the angel was never clearly explained. Caterina Forza was an intriguing historical figure, and it was nice to read her story. The corruption and political machinery of the Catholic church is well depicted in this book, as well as the influence of the Borgias. All in all, it was an entertaining read with some interesting and well-documented historical facts woven into the fiction. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Patricia | 1/25/2014

    " I really enjoyed this book and didn't want to put it down. Both Caterina and Dea were amazing characters. Caterina has always caught my attention and she especially did when she was dealing with Rodrigo Borgia. Great read and full of excitement. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Michaela Harris | 1/16/2014

    " This was the perfect way to end the summer - a total guilty pleasure...I loved every contrived plot twist. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Soma | 12/19/2013

    " Some of it was more history than fiction, of course. But overall a fantastic read. Characters are feisty and full of life, and the main character would be exemplary not just in Italy during the times of the Renaissance movement, but even in modern times. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kathyred | 12/18/2013

    " Phillipa Gregory read-alike: fictionalized historical, but set in 15th century Italy. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tammy | 12/5/2013

    " In the time of Renaissance Italy a beautiful warrior woman that loved, fought, and governed at a time when woman were basically objects for breeding. Told by her lady in waiting that has issues of her own, steeped in spiritualism and triumph card reading but always connected to Caterina Sforza. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cathy | 11/30/2013

    " Another enjoyable historical fiction. Would highly recommend it for holiday reading. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Suzanne | 11/19/2013

    " Another piece of Italian historical fiction in preparation for my upcoming trip to Italy. I've been promised less violence in this one... "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Carol | 11/15/2013

    " I'm not sure where I saw the review for this book that made me want to check it out. It was really just "OK" for me. I'm not up on my Italian Renaissance history, but this put some of it in perspective. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Susan | 11/13/2013

    " Piqued my interest in this part of history, think I will watch 'The Borgias' on TV. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ehbooklover | 9/3/2013

    " Another well researched novel set in Renaissance Italy by Kalogridis, this time focussing on the life of Caterina Sforza. My only complaint is that the reader doesn't really get to know Caterina in-depth as the story is told from the point of view of a fictional lady-in-waiting named Dea. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Sarah Jan | 8/15/2013

    " I started this book but just couldn't get into it - Not sure as I've read other books about this period (Italian 14th century) and loved it. It's written in first person and that is not my favorite form. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Allison | 7/20/2013

    " I loved this book, Caterina Sforza is a very interesting character. I'd love to read more from this time period. Very good! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Carole | 6/28/2013

    " Really good and interesting, the end of the book gets a little boring with a lot of war and battle (the female lead actually knows strategy as well as any man) overall I enjoyed it. And this is based on a real person. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Karen | 5/30/2013

    " Historical rendition on the strength of a woman during the time of a make dominated society and in the intrigue of the period. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tonia | 2/12/2013

    " Really like her books. The covers make these look like romance novels but they are history lessons, stories of power and control, and reminders that women did play roles in history, we simply have lost their stories and creatively have to fill in the holes. Great author. Page turning books! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Carrie | 12/13/2012

    " I wasn't that fond of this novel. I didn't find any of the characters compelling and I didn't particularly care what happened. I'm also not sure how much of this story is historically accurate. The author just states the characters are "based on" real people, which can mean anything. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Camille Clark | 10/20/2012

    " This book was hard to get into. However, once I got past the first chapter, it was much easier to read. Caterina starts as being the main character, but as the story moves on the storyteller, Dea, quickly shares the spotlight. I really enjoyed it after all. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Rachel | 6/7/2012

    " Well... I just couldn't get into it. I got about halfway through before I decided that I didn't have to read a book I wasn't interested in. Ah, well. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Libby Hewitt | 5/20/2012

    " Ms Kalogridis brings the fascinating historical figures of the Italian Renaissance to life...and place you in their midst. She is my new favorite author! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Christine | 5/14/2012

    " Interesting book and nice to read something about the other people during the time of the 'Borgia' Pope "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Maryann | 4/7/2012

    " It was o k not a page turner "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jen (RevJen) | 3/14/2012

    " This is another of those times when I wish I could give a book a half star. It is the story of Catalina Sforza as told through the perspective of a fictional character. It is an intriguing read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kathyred | 4/26/2011

    " Phillipa Gregory read-alike: fictionalized historical, but set in 15th century Italy. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Chelsea | 4/19/2011

    " This book is good although a little predictable. Dea's character has the power to see the future yet barely uses it. I liked caterina sforza but I wouldn't tell anyone they HAD to read this. I gave it three stars because it kept me interested. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sherrie Y | 2/23/2011

    " I am fascinated with the Italian Renaissance and Kalogridis delivers again with scandal and intrigue interwoven with historical figures.

    Every time I read a book like this it makes me want to go and learn more about this period - fascinating!! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Sarah Jan | 2/16/2011

    " I started this book but just couldn't get into it - Not sure as I've read other books about this period (Italian 14th century) and loved it. It's written in first person and that is not my favorite form. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Judy | 12/26/2010

    " One of my many Borgia related books I am reading now. Told from the point of view of a poor-relation servant. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jacqueline | 11/29/2010

    " I read Kalogridis' Dracula series before and liked it, and I enjoyed this book also. The author has a great sense of place and atmosphere, so renaissance Italy comes to life. I look forward to reading her other historical fiction novels too. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Vicky | 10/5/2010

    " It was not the best book of Kalogridis, the rich historical background and the real events of the time were very interesting but the characters felt undeveloped. "

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About the Author
Author Jeanne Kalogridis

Jeanne Kalogridis is the author of numerous dark fantasy and historical novels, including The Devil’s Queen, The Borgia Bride, and I, Mona Lisa. She lives with her partner in North Carolina.

About the Narrator

Wanda McCaddon (a.k.a. Nadia May or Donada Peters) has narrated well over six hundred titles for major audiobook publishers, has earned numerous Earphones Awards, and was named a Golden Voice by AudioFile magazine.