His Last Duchess by Gabrielle Kim

This book was a present and bought probably because it was an historical novel – which I enjoy reading.

The story is about Lucrezia de’ Medici who has an arranged marriage to the fifth Duke of Ferrara, Alfonso d’Este.  On the face of it Alfonso is not only a Duke and intelligent, but also handsome.    However Alfonso is a very complicated man – as Lucrezia is about to discover!

I thought this novel was very well written – especially for a first novel.  The descriptions of life in that period are very evocative and the characters are brought to life on the page.  I found myself caring for Lucrezia and absolutely detesting Alfonso! This is the type of novel that makes you look at these arranged marriages and makes you realise how difficult it was sometimes for the people living them – Lucrezia herself was in fact at one point envious of her own maid who seemed to have such a lot more freedom to come and go as she pleased and speak and like who she wished.  In marrying the Duke Lucrezia was basically totally at his whim in all things – she had no money, no independence, no friends and the Duke expected her to have no will or thoughts of her own – althouth in actual fact he obviously found her intimidating.

Basically, Lucrezia was a very innocent, sweet and naive individual and as such most people naturnally liked her.  The Duke was superior, disdainful and proud and as such most people naturally disliked him.  In this, Lucrezia was lucky enough to have enough people around her who genuinely cared about her – even from quarters that you would not expect.  I guess I had second guessed the outcome but even so the final chapters of the book were written in a way that did make for a tense ending.

My criticism for this book would be that I found it a little bit drawn out in parts.  The introduction was well produced but I found my attention wavering somewhat during the 100-200 page range and I think maybe some of this could have been edited as it seemed a bit repetitive and I was tempted to skim read certain chapters.

Rating -B

His Last Duchess

His Last Duchess

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