The Subtlest Soul
Liverotto Euffreducci’s coup to seize control of Fermo in Renaissance Italy forms the pivotal backdrop of Cox’s densely-researched and delightfully readable (but long) novel about the social and political rivalries that boil underneath the surface of Machiavelli’s The Prince. Euffreducci was a paid mercenary, and his revolt against Cesare Borgia spawned repercussions and counter-intrigues which Cox humanizes by introducing her main fictional creation, young Matteo de Fermo, who’s in love with one of the victims of the coup and plots revenge on Euffreducci along with the future pope Giuliano della Rovere.
Despite the weighty, often bloody, matters young Matteo has to relate, Cox gives his narrative voice a hypnotically readable flair that carries the story along with ease and a surprising amount of worldly wisdom. The book’s multi-layered ending is heartbreaking and curiously uplifting. A remarkable achievement, highly recommended.