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From Child Bride to Powerful Ruler - an Editorial Review of "Turning the World to Stone"



Book Blurb:


Vilified by history, Caterina Sforza learned early that her life was not her own. Married at age ten, she was a pawn in the ever-changing political environment of Renaissance Italy.


Resigned to her life as a fifteenth-century wife, Caterina adapted to the role she was expected to play: raising and educating her children, helping the poor in her new home, and turning a blind eye to her husband’s increasingly shameful behaviour. But Fate had other plans for her, and soon Caterina’s path would be plagued by murder, betrayal, and heartbreak.


“Could I write all, the world would turn to stone.”


Book Buy Link: https://geni.us/XaXZj


Author Bio:



Welcome to my page! I started writing in high school and have always been fascinated by history, eventually earning a degree in the subject. The merging of the two came naturally when I started writing full time a few years ago.

In my alternate identity as Lady Matilda, I post satirical articles on managing your medieval manor during the Black Death.

I’ve just released my new historical fiction novel, Unfinished: The Inspired Life of Elisabetta Sirani, the tragic story of Maestra Sirani, a Seventeenth-Century artist who died young of a mysterious illness. I’m currently researching the life of Caterina Sforza for my next book.


Editorial Review:


It must be very lonely,” Caterina through aloud, “feeling like you have no one. No one to trust, no one to protect you, no one with whom to share your thoughts and to help you when you need it.”


Caterina Sforza, a young noblewoman of Italy, and the child bride of Girolamo Riario (the nephew to Pope Sixtus), is best known for quoting at the end of her life: "Se io potessi scrivere tutto, farei stupire il mondo" ("If I could write everything that happened, I would shock the world"), and the author, Kelly Evans does indeed manage to write down many of the outstanding events of Caterina's life in a full-bodied and enlightening way. We meet Caterina as a young girl of ten whose life changes quite suddenly as she is promised in marriage, post haste, to Girolamo as a way to ensure the families linkage to the Pope and their security, as was done in those days with noble families. As Caterina was the bastard daughter of the Duke of Milan, this marriage was fortuitous in securing a rise in her station. However, for a child, the horrors of succumbing to her wifely duties, something Girolamo enforced as his right, was, of course, more than any child at that age should or could bear. Yet, even with that forced change in her life, the author encapsulates the transformation of the child into a young woman, this girl into the strong ruler who bore many children and faced many foes (even that of her husband who entangled himself in many plots) with her head held high. Her story is definitely one of strength and of a woman who showed herself resilient in a time when a woman's role was merely to bear children. She defended herself, her status, and her family against some formidable enemies, such as the Orsis (a noble family of Forli), and during her lifetime she stood out as someone who helped the people she ruled over, with an interest in alchemy, the arts, hunting, dancing and horse riding. The passion she displayed for all of those things shone forth in the words of this book in a very interesting, engaging, and entertaining way.


Now seventeen, Caterina has been living in Rome for nearly two years and believed that she'd changed dramatically. She felt more capable of discussing Rome and its needs with Sixtus, even if Caterina felt like he humoured her much of the time. But she didn't mind. She was learning: the politics, the players, the hidden messages in their words and body language, everything.


One of the most intriguing slices of this history, as portrayed in this novel, is the deep friendship she formed with Pope Sixtus, and after his death her brave decision to seize control of the Castel Sant'Angelo (at seven months pregnant) for her husband in order to protect him after enemies ransacked his residence, the Orsini palace. From there, with support of the soldiers, she monitored the Vatican and made arrangements for the next conclave. And to think she was only nineteen when she undertook this feat! It is well understood when she said later in her life that if she were to write down all of her history, the world would indeed be astounded.

Money. All the world's woes seemed to come down to money. Who had it, who didn't, and who wanted more and more. She sighed. When she had dreamed of adult life as a child, never had Caterina imagined the confusing and ever-changing tangle of families and loyalties she had encountered so far in this city. And here she was at the centre of it. It was too early for her to decide if this was a good thing or not.


The author does an excellent job in showing the depth of Caterina's transformation and fleshes out her character in a very believable way. However, perhaps in viewing this from a more modern eye, a reader might want a bit more to understand the anguish she suffered as a child bride. Yet, while the author presents the understanding of what many young girls of that very age from a renaissance-eye as quite normal and frequent, the reality of it is quite foreign and abhorrent to our modern sensibilities. Girls really did have to succumb to this sort of life in order to secure their families positions. Very sad, indeed. Yet again, Ms Evans presents this in a 'tasteful' way (as can be possible) without causing any extreme offense... in other words, she is very delicate with the subject, while also presenting Caterina as rising from that situation like a phoenix rising from the ashes and becoming the formidable ruler that she is truly known for. The set up for future stories about Caterina is well-established and gives the reader anticipation for future novels about this incredible woman. Ms Evans writing style is fluid and a reader truly gets the sense of place and time period. Very well done.


There are moments when small shards of despair invade my soul and cause me to envy the dead, for they are beyond the woes of this world, and I wish my cares were over like theirs.”


*****


Turning the World to Stone” by Kelly Evans receives five stars and the “Highly Recommended” award of excellence from The Historical Fiction Company

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