"Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body." Sir Richard Steele

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Review of His Last Duchess

His Last Duchess
Gabrielle Kimm
Sourcebooks Landmark
ISBN 9781402264510

   Sixteen year old Lucrezia de'Medici is excitedly awaiting her gilded life to her soon to be husband, Alfonso d'Este, Duke of Ferrara. He has handpicked her to be his bride in anticipation of an heir for his kingdom and an alliance with her father. The Duke quickly proves how dangerous he is in addition to his dark and handsome side. Life proves to be the opposite of what Lucrezia had planned and the castle becomes a living trap for her.
   The Dukes desperate need for an heir drives him further into the dark recesses of his mind and the only person who is able to give him any relief is his mistress, Francesca. Alfonso obsesses over an imagined plot against himself and his mind climbs deeper into despair and his fury builds. Lucrezia's dreams  become less and less a reality and more of a nightmare. Eventually, she heads down a dangerous path that may well lead to her destruction.
   This is a wonderful historical fiction novel that was inspired by Robert Browning's monologue, "My Last Duchess." I had never read the piece before so I did so, not once but twice before I read the book. I had no clue as to what I read. This concerned me a bit until I started reading the novel, and I was pleasantly surprised. The storyline was quite intriguing and flowed nicely from the beginning to the end. The character of Lucrezia was very naive and because of her young age was very immature when she married the Duke. She had no clue what to expect upon her marriage and was quite appalled at her husband's behavior. It was not long before she started to realize that things were amiss. Alfonso was a very dark and dismal character. It became apparent quickly that he had some kind of mental illness that only increased as the inability to produce an heir became an issue.
   All in all this was a wonderful read. The characters and the story were handled well. The mental illness of Alfonso was very bleak to the story; but it is also what made the true interest of the story initially. I think all historical fiction fans will find this to be a worthwhile read. Step into the passions of  sixteenth century. Follow a story of forbidden love and darkness that will haunt you.
   I wish to thank Sourcebooks for providing me with an ARC for reading and reviewing purposes. I was not required to write a positive review. I was not compensated in anyway except for receiving the book to review.

I give His Last Duchess 4 out of 5 stars

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