The year is 1502, and seven-year-old Bianca de Nevada lives perched high above the rolling hills and valleys of Tuscany and Umbria at Montefiore, the farm of her beloved father, Don Vicente. But one day a noble entourage makes its way up the winding slopes to the farm -- and the world comes to Montefiore.In the presence of Cesare Borgia and his sister, the lovely and vain Lucrezia -- decadent children of a wicked pope -- no one can claim innocence for very long. When Borgia sends Don Vicente on a years-long quest, he leaves Bianca under the care -- so to speak -- of Lucrezia.She plots a dire fate for the young girl in the woods below the farm, but in the dark forest salvation can be found as well ...A lyrical work of stunning creative vision, Mirror Mirror gives fresh life to the classic story of Snow White -- and has a truth and beauty all its own.
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1 . Mirror, Mirror
Posted June 22, 2008 by scarlett , Historic FictionI love the way Maguire weaves well known tales into a historical landscape. This wonderful book led me to investigate the Borgia family and their bizarre landscape of avarice and incest. I found "The Borgia Bride, a Novel" by Jeanne Kalogrides an excellent addition to this book.
March 17, 2009
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Excerpt from Mirror Mirror by Gregory Maguire
The Roofs of Montefiore
FROM THE arable river lands to the south, the approach to Montefiore appears a sequence of relaxed hills. In the late spring, when the puckers of red poppy blossom are scattered against the green of the season, it can look like so much washing, like mounds of Persian silk and Florentine brocade lightly tossed in heaps. Each successive rise takes on a new color, indefinably more fervent, an aspect of distance and time stained by the shadows of clouds, or bleached when the sun takes a certain position.
But the traveler on foot or in a hobble-wheeled peasant cart, or even on horseback, learns the truth of the terrain. The ascent is steeper than it looks from below. And the rutted track traverses in long switchbacks to accommodate for the severity of the grade and the crosscutting ravines. So the trip takes many more hours than the view suggests. The red-tiled roofs of Montefiore come into sight, promisingly, and then they disappear again as hills loom up and forests close in.
Often I have traveled the road to Montefiore in memory. Today I travel it in true time, true dust, true air. When the track lends me height enough, I can glimpse the villa's red roofs above the ranks of poplars, across the intervening valleys. But I can't tell if the house is peopled with my friends and my family, or with rogues who have murdered the servants in their beds. I can't tell if the walls below the roofline are scorched with smoke, or if the doors are marked with an ashy cross to suggest that plague has come to gnaw the living into their mortal rest, their last gritty blanket shoveled over their heads.
But I have come out of one death, the one whose walls were glass; I have awakened into a second life dearer for being both unpromised and undeserved. Anyone who walks from her own grave relies on the unexpected. Anyone who walks from her own grave knows that death is more patient than Gesý Cristo. Death can afford to wait.
But now the track turns again, and my view momentarily spins back along the slopes I've climbed so far. My eye traces the foothills already gained, considers the alphabet of light that spells its unreadable words on the surface of the river. My eye also moves along the past, to my early misapprehensions committed to memory on this isolated outcropping.
The eye is always caught by light, but shadows have more to say.
Rest. Breathe in, breathe out. No one can harm you further than death could do. When rested, you must go on; you must find out the truth about Montefiore. Granted a second life, you must find in it more meaning than you could ever determine in your first.