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The Marriage Portrait

The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O'Farrell

As seen:

  • Women's Prize for Fiction 2023 Longlist
  • Women's Prize for Fiction 2023 Shortlist

By Maggie O'Farrell

avg rating

5 reviews

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Marriage was her destiny. Now she must survive it.

The breathtaking new novel from the No. 1 bestselling author of Hamnet, winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2020.

The Marriage Portrait is a dazzling evocation of the Italian Renaissance in all its beauty and brutality.

Winter, 1561. Lucrezia, Duchess of Ferrara, is taken on an unexpected visit to a country villa by her husband, Alfonso. As they sit down to dinner it occurs to Lucrezia that Alfonso has a sinister purpose in bringing her here. He intends to kill her.

Lucrezia is sixteen years old, and has led a sheltered life locked away inside Florence’s grandest palazzo. Here, in this remote villa, she is entirely at the mercy of her increasingly erratic husband.

What is Lucrezia to do with this sudden knowledge? What chance does she have against Alfonso, ruler of a province, and a trained soldier? How can she ensure her survival.

The Marriage Portrait is an unforgettable reimagining of the life of a young woman whose proximity to power places her in mortal danger.


31 Aug 2023

I loved this book, especially the links to the poem which inspired the story. The ending left me a little perplexed and I would live to ask the author about it. I would highly recommend this book but it is quite dark in places.

06 Aug 2023

Absolutely loved this book. I am a fan of historical fiction anyway but this story was told perfectly.

28 Jul 2023

Very interesting on the whole but it didn’t engross me in the same way as Hamnet.

15 Jul 2023


This one skips along prettily as a very nice story with an underlying threat. Set in the 1500's it's based on real events but has been embroidered beautifully by Maggie O'Farrell and she manages to add a wonderful twist at the end. A lovely book that would make an ideal holiday read.

12 Apr 2023

This took me a while to get into but then I couldn't put it down. I love Maggie O Farrell's historical fiction. The human condition doesn't really change it just exists in other times and places.

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