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The Marriage Portrait
“Lucrezia de'Medici is only 15 when she's married off to the Duke of Ferrara, and barely 16 when she realizes he intends to have her killed. Lucrezia is thrust into a world of honey-covered lies and manipulation, where her husband's sisters vie for her favor, her husband is kind one moment and volatile the next, and everyone waits for her to produce an heir. And if she can't...This is the best historical fiction I've read in years - an absolute must-read!”Emma,
Quail Ridge Books
“Listened to the ALC and it was riveting. Highly recommend the audio version.”Jennifer,
East City Bookshop
“Fans of historical fiction will love this latest by Maggie O’Farrell. She is a master at providing detailed description of distant times and places, allowing the reader to feel they are not just witnessing the past but inside the heads of her characters. In this case, we are transported to Renaissance Italy, to the marriage of a very young Medici daughter to the powerful Duke of Ferrara. The story is dramatic and suspenseful, focusing on the machinations of the royal court, and the unfortunate way women were used as political pawns.”Beth,
A Great Good Place for Books
“If you love historical fiction you will love the vibrant and stunning sense of place that Maggie O’Farrell creates in The Marriage Portrait. This is the fictionalized tale of the life of Lucrezia de Medici who was born and raised in 1550s Renaissance Florence, Italy.”Anne,
Cherry Street Books
“Readers who loved Hamnet will find in this novel the same luminous moments, the same perfectly curated details, that made O'Farrell's earlier novel so astonishing and memorable. This time, O'Farrell takes us into the mind of a young artist during the Renaissance, and seldom has a novel so brilliantly captured the terror of darkness, the intense awareness of discovery, or the thrill of the unfamiliar that form the context of some of the greatest works of art in western Europe. And yet, the author gives us something more universal: Lucrezia, a mostly forgotten figure in our history, becomes in this novel every woman who has faced dramatic change with as much hope as experience, and we cannot help but love her for how she gathers herself, like the tiger she so briefly encountered, for a spring into eternity.”Nialle,
The Haunted Bookshop
“Brilliantly read by Genevieve Gaunt, I could not pause The Marriage Portrait. The story of the young dutchess Lucrezia de Medici, I listened while walking the dogs, making dinner, and driving to work. Maggie O’Farrell, who authored Hamnet, is the master of creating tension through the details of the day. Loved every beautiful sentence and am not sure what to do with my life now that it’s over.”Julie,
Honest Dog Books
WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION FINALIST • REESE’S BOOK CLUB PICK • NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER • The author of award-winning Hamnet brings the world of Renaissance Italy to jewel-bright life in this unforgettable fictional portrait of the captivating young duchess Lucrezia de' Medici as she makes her way in a troubled court.
“I could not stop reading this incredible true story.” —Reese Witherspoon (Reese’s Book Club Pick)
"O’Farrell pulls out little threads of historical detail to weave this story of a precocious girl sensitive to the contradictions of her station...You may know the history, and you may think you know what’s coming, but don’t be so sure." —The Washington Post
Florence, the 1550s. Lucrezia, third daughter of the grand duke, is comfortable with her obscure place in the palazzo: free to wonder at its treasures, observe its clandestine workings, and devote herself to her own artistic pursuits. But when her older sister dies on the eve of her wedding to the ruler of Ferrara, Modena and Reggio, Lucrezia is thrust unwittingly into the limelight: the duke is quick to request her hand in marriage, and her father just as quick to accept on her behalf.
Having barely left girlhood behind, Lucrezia must now enter an unfamiliar court whose customs are opaque and where her arrival is not universally welcomed. Perhaps most mystifying of all is her new husband himself, Alfonso. Is he the playful sophisticate he appeared to be before their wedding, the aesthete happiest in the company of artists and musicians, or the ruthless politician before whom even his formidable sisters seem to tremble?
As Lucrezia sits in constricting finery for a painting intended to preserve her image for centuries to come, one thing becomes worryingly clear. In the court’s eyes, she has one duty: to provide the heir who will shore up the future of the Ferranese dynasty. Until then, for all of her rank and nobility, the new duchess’s future hangs entirely in the balance.
Full of the beauty and emotion with which she illuminated the Shakespearean canvas of Hamnet, Maggie O’Farrell turns her talents to Renaissance Italy in an extraordinary portrait of a resilient young woman’s battle for her very survival.
MAGGIE O'FARRELL was born in Northern Ireland in 1972. Her novels include Hamnet (winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award), After You’d Gone, The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox, The Hand That First Held Mine (winner of the Costa Novel Award), and Instructions for a Heatwave. She has also written a memoir, I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes with Death. She lives in Edinburgh.