Another historical novel fed by that sluice of high art, low cunning, poison, passion, and murder--i.e. the Italian Renaissance. This is a relatively restrained retelling of the tragedy of Beatrice Cenci, executed for the killing of her father. Young Beatrice, imprisoned, humiliated, and threatened by the savage boor Francesco Cenci, is driven to cohabitate with him to produce a child. At the end of her physical and moral strength, she conspires with her brother, sister-in-law, and lover to dispatch Francesco and hurl the body over the battlements. The narrator, a fictional aunt-by-marriage, chronicles. Beatrice's struggles for sanity, the trials and tortures, and the pitiful end. The author gathers atmosphere with careful landscapes, old stones, and the sinister light of dungeons and castles. Sedate, and spare, certainly respectable, but too simple and quiet for such a bloody and thunderous drama.