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{ "item_title" : "The Marriage Portrait", "item_author" : [" Maggie O'Farrell "], "item_description" : "From the author of the breakout New York Times best seller Hamnet—winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award—an electrifying new novel set in Renaissance Italy, and centering on the captivating young duchess Lucrezia de Medici.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 to devote herself to her own artistic pursuits. But when her older sister dies on the eve of her wedding to the ruler of Ferrara, Moderna and Regio, 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 make her way in a troubled 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 drama and verve with which she illuminated the Shakespearean canvas of Hamnet, Maggie O’Farrell brings the world of Renaissance Italy to jewel-bright life, and offers an unforgettable portrait of a resilient young woman’s battle for her very survival. MAGGIE O'FARRELL was born in Northern Ireland in 1972 and grew up in Wales and Scotland. She has worked as a waitress, chambermaid, bike messenger, teacher, arts administrator, journalist (in Hong Kong and London), and as the deputy literary editor of The Independent on Sunday. Her books include Hamnet (winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award); After You’d Gone (winner of the Betty Trask Award); The Distance Between Us (winner of a Somerset Maugham Award); and Instructions for a Heatwave. She lives in London.", "item_img_path" : "https://covers1.booksamillion.com/covers/bam/0/59/332/062/059332062X_b.jpg", "price_data" : { "retail_price" : "28.00", "online_price" : "24.36", "our_price" : "24.36", "club_price" : "24.36", "savings_pct" : "13", "savings_amt" : "3.64", "club_savings_pct" : "13", "club_savings_amt" : "3.64", "discount_pct" : "10", "store_price" : "28.00" } }
The Marriage Portrait|Maggie O'Farrell
The Marriage Portrait
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Overview

From the author of the breakout New York Times best seller Hamnet—winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award—an electrifying new novel set in Renaissance Italy, and centering on the captivating young duchess Lucrezia de Medici.

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 to devote herself to her own artistic pursuits. But when her older sister dies on the eve of her wedding to the ruler of Ferrara, Moderna and Regio, 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 make her way in a troubled 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 drama and verve with which she illuminated the Shakespearean canvas of Hamnet, Maggie O’Farrell brings the world of Renaissance Italy to jewel-bright life, and offers an unforgettable portrait of a resilient young woman’s battle for her very survival.

MAGGIE O'FARRELL was born in Northern Ireland in 1972 and grew up in Wales and Scotland. She has worked as a waitress, chambermaid, bike messenger, teacher, arts administrator, journalist (in Hong Kong and London), and as the deputy literary editor of The Independent on Sunday. Her books include Hamnet (winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award); After You’d Gone (winner of the Betty Trask Award); The Distance Between Us (winner of a Somerset Maugham Award); and Instructions for a Heatwave. She lives in London.

Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780593320624
  • ISBN-10: 059332062X
  • Publisher: Knopf
  • Publish Date: September 2022
  • Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.46 pounds
  • Page Count: 352

Related Categories

Maggie O'Farrell's Hamnet hit at the right moment; her 2020 novel about the tragic death of William Shakespeare's son from the bubonic plague made for compelling reading as many of us quarantined during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Her next novel, The Marriage Portrait, is a vivid depiction of the harsh manners and rigid expectations for women within ducal courts in 16th-century Italy.

The Marriage Portrait is based on the life of Lucrezia de'Medici, born into one of Italy's most illustrious families. With parents eager to strengthen ties to other noble Italian houses, Lucrezia's older sister Maria is betrothed to Alfonso, Duke of Ferrara. When Maria dies of an unspecified illness just days before the wedding, 15-year-old Lucrezia is offered in her place. Less than a year later, Lucrezia is dead, probably from tuberculosis—but at the time, it was alleged that she was murdered by her husband. This long-lasting rumor became the basis of Robert Browning's dramatic 1842 poem "My Last Duchess," which begins, "That's my last Duchess painted on the wall, / Looking as if she were alive."

As imagined by O'Farrell, Lucrezia is a free spirit and artist, attuned to the natural world and accepted, if not warmly embraced, by her large Florentine family. Once married, she is out of her league in the tense, gossipy Ferrara household, where she is frightened by her husband's mercurial moods and his sisters' cagey secrets. Lucrezia quickly realizes that the longer it takes her to produce an heir, the more danger she is in. As she sits for a formal marriage portrait and cautiously makes a connection with the artist's apprentice, she remains not only on the periphery of the court but also fearful for her life.   

O'Farrell is a marvelous stylist, and The Marriage Portrait is full of the same kinds of intense details that made Hamnet come alive. Her characters are captivating and believable, and the landscape of Renaissance Italy is a veritable gift to the senses, so powerfully does O'Farrell evoke the sights, sounds and smells of forest, castle and barnyard. 

From Lucrezia's early encounters with a tiger in her father's menagerie to her final days in a wooded fortress, The Marriage Portrait will please readers who relish good historical fiction as well as anyone looking to the past to better understand the present.

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