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The Marriage Portrait

By Maggie O' Farrell


333 pages

What’s it about?

This work of historical fiction is set in Italy in the 1550’s.  Lucrezia de’ Medici is born to marry well.  She is the third daughter of the grand duke of Tuscany. Her role in life has always been to ally another strong family with hers through marriage.  Alternating between her childhood and her first year of marriage (at fifteen-years-old) we get a glimpse into the life of a young duchess and the pressures that surround her.

What did it make me think about?

The role of woman in Renaissance society.

Should I read it?

“Hamnet” was one of my favorites last year and my expectations were high.  Expectations can ruin many a good book….  I enjoyed this novel but it did not have the depth of Hamnet.  Do not let this keep you from reading this book- it is entertaining and I think those of you who like historical fiction will enjoy this novel.  It is a little melodramatic but who doesn’t like a little drama.  All in all and interesting take on marriage and power in 1550’s Italy.


Historical Note

“In 1560, fifteen-year-old Lucrezia di Cosimo de’ Medici left Florence to begin her married life with Alfonos II d’Este, Duke of Ferrara.

Less than a year later, she would be dead.

The official cause of her death was given as ‘putrid fever’, but it was rumored that she had been murdered by her husband.”

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