6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Dazzling Summer read,
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This review is from: His Last Duchess (Paperback)
This is the sort of book to take away with you on a wet weekend as it immediately conjures a sense of the hot sun of Renaissance Italy.One of Gabrielle Kimm's strengths is that she is able to convey that heat and light to someone like me, sitting in Cumbria with the grey rain sheeting down outside. Her other strength is in describing the minutiae of life in a Tuscan estate, including a wonderful description of the kitchens, the intricacies of falconry, the manufacture of lime, and most of all the lost art of fresco painting. Impeccably researched, the history is woven fluidly into the plot so that you never feel as if it is slowing the story.The plot is fast-moving and unfolds from the poem with inevitability, but there is a twist in the tale which is very satisfying to the reader - I shan't spoil it for you though.
Lucrezia comes across as a sweet-natured heroine, out of her depth in a marriage to the sinister and controlling Alfonso, the Duke of Ferrara. In many ways his conflicted character drives the book, and the reader is both fascinated and repulsed by his developing psychology. In terms of the poem, Gabrielle Kimm has managed to make sense of the hidden story behind the monologue, and I doubt if I will ever be able to read the poem again without remembering this book.
One word of warning though for parents and teachers who might buy this book for a child who is studying the poem - best read it yourself before giving it to younger readers - not just because it is an excellent book, but because you might want to check out the adult nature of the themes before passing it on.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and the character of Francesca, Alfonso's whore, is one I look forward to meeting in Gabrielle's next book, The Courtesan's Choice.