Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Turning the World to Stone by Kelly Evan - Book Tour

Turning the World to Stone: The Life of Caterina Sforza Part One 1472 - 1488

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.”

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 “I must see the Holy Father.” Caterina walked the halls with Luisa, trying to burn some nervous energy she’d usually dissipate with a ride or visit to the market.

“Why? He won’t want to see anyone right now,” Luisa replied.

“I’m a healer and I’m certain I can treat Sixtus.”

Luisa nodded her agreement. “It’s not possible to leave the house right now, you know that.” She waved vaguely in the direction of the courtyard, where, even now, her husband’s borrowed guards from the papal army held back any who tried to enter.

“I’ve been thinking of that. I have a way, but I need your help.”

Luisa raised an eyebrow at her friend. “It’s not like you to be so mysterious. What do you plan on doing?”

“We’re not allowed out, but someone still has to leave to buy food and supplies for the palace, correct?”

“I believe so, yes.”

“Well, if I were to borrow a servant’s clothing and cover my head, I could sneak to the Vatican unnoticed and help the Holy Father.”

It seemed reckless to Luisa, but she agreed with her friend that they shouldn’t be made to suffer because of the count’s foolish vendettas. “I’m going with you.”

Caterina tried to keep her smile to herself, but Luisa caught her eye, and she beamed. “I’m glad.” Then, remembering the reason for their intrigue, grew solemn again. “I must gather up some remedies from my herb room. Will you see to our disguises while I do so?”

“Of course. I’ll meet you back in your bedroom.” She squeezed Caterina’s arm as she hurried towards the kitchen, happy for the unexpected adventure.

Half an hour later, they both wore the plain blue dress of kitchen maids. The Riario emblem was emblazoned on the shoulder of each dress, and their heads were covered with linen veils, making it easier for them to walk past the guards at the back of the palace with little fuss.

“That was easier than I thought it would be,” Luisa whispered as they continued around the building to the main concourse.

“Did you want a confrontation with the guards?” Caterina asked.

Luisa blushed. “No. It’s just, I had a story all prepared. You’re Serafina and I’m Palmira and we’ve been working for the count and countess for nearly a year.” She smiled proudly.

“Doing what, exactly?” Caterina was enjoying herself but kept a close eye on their surroundings as they headed toward the Vatican.

She stopped and sighed. “I hadn’t actually got that far yet,” she admitted.

“It’s just as well because you’re a terrible liar.” They’d arrived at the Vatican, and Caterina mounted a set of back steps that led directly to the papal apartments. “Sixtus may let me in, but I think you’ll have to wait for me. I’ll make sure I find a guard I know to keep an eye on you. Otherwise, someone is likely to send you to the kitchens.” She smiled kindly at her friend.

It was easy enough to get into the Vatican; there were always many servants coming and going. And luckily, Caterina found a friendly guard right away, one who laughed when he saw her.

“This is Nino. He’ll see that no one asks you to bake them a loaf of bread.” She smirked at Luisa, then turned and entered the Pope’s private rooms.

Those inside recognised her, from both her frequent visits and her familial connection, and while a few raised an eyebrow at her appearance, none stopped her from entering the pontiff’s bed chamber.

The smell hit her first, like something had died under the Pope’s bed. A cardinal looked up as she entered, then frowned at her. “Madonna, this is no place for a woman.”

“Nor for you either, judging by the smell in this room.” She walked to a wall and pulled aside a tapestry, revealing a window. Lifting the metal hinge, she pushed the glass open and felt the cool fall air drift into the room as the cardinal stood and sputtered at her. “What do you think you’re doing? The Holy Father is ill and not able to withstand any change of temperature.” He started toward her, his face now the colour of his robe.

“Wait.” A weak voice came from the direction of the large walnut bed. “She stays.”


Author Bio –

Born in Canada of Scottish extraction, Kelly Evans graduated in History and English then moved to England where she worked in the financial sector. While in London Kelly continued her studies in history, concentrating on Medieval History, and travelled extensively through Eastern and Western Europe. 

Kelly is now back in Canada with her husband Max and a rescue cat. She writes full-time, focussing on illuminating little-known women in history with fascinating stories. When not working on her novels, Kelly writes Described Video scripts for visually impaired individuals, plays oboe, and enjoys old sci-fi movies.


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