I have read all of Dan Brown’s books, but I enjoyed Angels and Demons and Digital Fortress the most. I am not sure why. Maybe because I am a Catholic and used to work in IT. Despite reading and enjoying all his books, I do find them formulaic. There is also always a lot of explaining and a female love interest that doesn’t need to be there at all.
I was thus interested to read Conclave by Robert Harris. It was a quick and easy read – I finished it in about four hours – and goes more deeply into what happens during a papal conclave than Brown’s Angels and Demons.
I have also always been fascinated by Rodrigo Borgia, Pope Alexander VI. He fathered – among others – Lucrezia Borgia (the famous poisoner), and Cesare Borgia (about whom Machiavelli wrote The Prince. He is rumoured to have bribed his way to the Papacy during the conclave. A good book about that is The Borgias by Christopher Hibbert. He also wrote a brilliant book on the House of Medici.
Interestingly, papal conclaves could sometimes take years. After one conclave took so long that several cardinals died during the process, the roof of the premises was removed and the cardinals had to eat bread and water. It still took more than a year to come to a decision. Politics can be a terrible thing.
I also watched The Commitments for the first time. I always thought that the movie was a documentary about the music. Turns out the movie was made from a novel and the music was the soundtrack of the film. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was so 80s. So Dublin. So Irish. So funny. So Catholic. The clothes and wallpaper and all the mullets really made me chuckle. It was how I grew up.