Why did I love this book?
I love historical fiction that makes a moment in time come alive, but also adds a lens to it—otherwise why read fiction?
The Marriage Portrait plunged me into the 16th century in Florence and Ferrara, and showed those familiar palaces to me through the lens of how powerful men manipulate women, and how women who seem to have no power in a society can still fight back. It also makes me see the famous Browning poem and all of the court portraits of the era in a new light.
I loved the highly layered details, and admired the way O’Farrell created nonstop dramatic tension in the novel. This is a super intense story that never lets up.