Saturday, October 8, 2011

"His Last Duchess" by Gabrielle Kimm

* * * * *   
  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark (October 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 978-1402261510
I have read other books about the Medicis. Many of them irk  me  just a bit with their concentration on sex and depravity. Yes, we all have noted that the Medici family was prone to some perversity but that is rally only a small part of the story of this truly amazing Renaissance family. The history of Florence and the Medici family is, perhaps, not complete without some portrayal of their odd familial sexual perversion but it need not be the focus of a book to be interesting. At least on my opinion - and although I don't consider myself a libertine by any stretch of the imagination- neither am I prude.

This book was a happy exception to the rule about fiction based on the Medici family. My favorite thing about the book is that it poignantly depicts the beauty that was Florence during the Renaissance. As a reader I can almost smell the air, breath in the scents of cooking and flowers, walk through sun warmed porticos and wander through darkened, shuttered room where anything might - and sometimes does -happen. This is a well researched book that shines with the basis of fact that makes reading good historical fiction so enjoyable and satisfying.

The story takes the reader through 16 year old  Lucrezia de Medici's ill fated marriage to the wealthy &  handsome Duke of Ferrara, Alphonso D'Este. Yes, there is some sex - but it a part of the story - not the story itself. That makes all of the difference for me as a reader.

The book is well researched, well written with subtlety blended plot lines that will have you routing for Lucrezia as the book nears the end. It's a compelling read that I certainly think can't fail to please. I thoroughly recommend this as a very readable, enjoyable, and illustrative book about this famous family.


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