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Book Review:"The Red Lily Crown: A Novel of Medici Florence" by Elizabeth Loupas

"The Red Lily Crown: A Novel of Medici Florence" by Elizabeth Loupas

Evil, scandal, lies, hatred, disloyalty, lust, and greed are only some of the words that can be used to describe Medici Florence in the late 1500's. When the hateful, dangerous, and strange Prince Francesco de' Medici becomes the new Grand Duke, people watch in nervousness and fear. Would he put his alluringly seductive mistress Bianca in power? What would he do through his love of alchemy? Would he murder his family members? What would he do to the people of Florence? Meanwhile, another person's life is about to change. Chiara Nerini, daughter of a bookseller loyal to the old Republic strives to better her impoverished family's life, but this goal puts her in the path of the dangerous new Grand Duke and into a world of scandal, danger, and alchemy. In "The Red Lily Crown: A Novel of Medici Florence" by Elizabeth Loupas, Chiara enters the lion's den of danger, the Medici world.

"The Red Lily Crown" follows Chiara Nerini, a young girl with a lot of pain. Chiara suffers the losses of her parents and brother, is hurt by her father's hatred towards her because she lived and her brother didn't, deals with horrible headaches and voices in her head from an accident, and has to take care of her hungry and poor grandmother (Nonna) and two sisters. Chiara decides to take action and sells her bookseller father's rare and special alchemical equipment to Prince Francesco de' Medici who is obsessed with alchemy. Prince Francesco and his English alchemist Ruanno both see something in this equipment and Chiara. Francesco takes Chiara into his household and world. As Francesco becomes the new Grand Duke, Chiara becomes Francesco's virgin acolyte who will assist him in all his experiments and goals. Throughout this, Chiara becomes close to the women in Francesco's life: his wife, the kind Giovanna; his sister, the beautiful and seductive Isabella,; and his cousin, the pretty and playful Dianora and watches as they all become his tragic victims. Chiara also becomes close to Ruanno, a handsome, but aloof man with secrets and pain of his own. The two fall in love, but danger lurks around every corner as the Grand Duke becomes more and more dangerous and evil and his mistress Bianca also plots for more power. As Chiara strives to protect herself and those she's loved and lost, she is put in more danger. Filled with scandal, intrigue, betrayal, love, loss, and a detailed look at alchemy, "The Red Lily Crown" will make you feel as if you are part of this dangerous journey alongside Chiara.

There is something special about novels by Loupas. The author always immerses readers completely into her novels. Whether it be the wonderful storytelling, the fascinating characters, the sharp attention to detail, or the meticulous research, these novels are some of the best in historical fiction. It is no different with "The Red Lily Crown". This novel breathes some new life in historical fiction with these interesting figures from history and the element of alchemy being featured in the novel.

Loupas brings Medici Florence to life with the powerful portrayals of these real life figures. Loupas truly portrays the dangerous evil inside of Francesco, the goodness of Giovanna, the selfish yet desperate personality of Bianca, and the alluring and irresistible quality of Isabella. Loupas also portrays such interesting fictional characters. Chiara is a wonderful heroine with her intelligence and her loyalty. You'll be rooting for her as she encounters such danger, heartache, loss, and even triumph. Ruanno is another great character from Loupas. He has a tragic past, but is a brilliant mind and has a loyal heart for those he loves. Loupas is famous for offering such great characters and it really shines through in this novel.

One of the strongest elements of the story are the different females portrayed. Each female in this story is so different, but they are connected so beautifully. Chiara is the strong heroine of the novel. Bianca is the seductive, selfish, and evil mistress who often times shows sadness and vulnerability. Giovanna is the sad wife of a madmen who shows kindness and love, even while her life is heartbreaking. Isabella is saucy and delightful, but never seems truly happy. Dianora is all about pleasure-seeking and fun, but ends up with a tragic ending. Even Chiara's Nonna with her loyalties to the old Republic and her love for her granddaughters make for an interesting female character. It's all about the ladies in this novel!

"The Red Lily Crown" is a delight to read. History, fiction, sex, scandal, schemes, and alchemy all combine to make up one of the best historical fictions novels of 2014! It will be exciting to see what Loupas comes up with next!

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