The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O’Farrell
First line: Lucrezia is taking her seat at the long dining table, which is polished to a watery gleam and spread with dishes, inverted cups, a woven circlet of fir.
Summary: Lucrezia de’ Medici is the third daughter of the grand duke of Florence. She has always been considered a little different than her siblings. Her family has given her freedom but also the same learning as her brothers. After the death of her sister she is suddenly pushed into a betrothal with her sister’s fiancé, the duke of Ferrara. Even though she fears this marriage she is a dutiful daughter. At first things seem to be going well with her husband but as time passes without an heir she starts to worry that something sinister is brewing in the duke’s mind.
My Thoughts: This book was beautifully written. I love O’Farrell’s style. It is almost poetic in the way it flows. For some it may not be their style and seem rather slow but I found it perfect for the period and subject.
Very little is known about the events of Lucrezia’s life but O’Farrell does a wonderful job of filling out the story and the characters. The narrative flashes back and forth between her childhood and the time of her marriage. I found the scenes with her husband to be dark and sinister. She is worried he is trying to kill her but she continues to question her feelings. As a reader I could feel the tension as she tried to decide how to handle her precarious situation.
If you loved Hamnet then I believe you will find this one just as intriguing. It has the same feeling of dread approaching with the same lyrical writing. I would highly recommend it be savored with a glass of wine on a crisp fall day.