The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O”Farrell is a historical fiction novel based in part on the sudden death of sixteen-year-old Lucrezia just one year after marrying the Duke of Ferrara.
The story travels between “present” time in 1961 as Lucrezia fears her husband’s murderous intentions after moving her to a remote location, their year of marriage leading up to this moment, and key events of Lucrezia’s childhood.
Lucrezia was always an independent, unique child. Her strong mind and artistic ability make her a bit unpredictable. When her sister dies unexpectedly, she is forced into an early arranged union to her deceased sister’s betrothed. Soon after their marriage, Lucrezia realizes that there are two sides to the Duke. He can be quite charming or extremely harsh. The Duke is desperate to have a male heir, and their problems compound when Lucrezia isn’t able to get pregnant. Lucrezia’s personality ultimately saves her from this terrible fate.
I really enjoy these time pieces, and found this to be an interesting approach with a great twist to an actual event.