Join us for the Charleston Library Society’s first CLS Book Club of 2023!
This Winter 2023 CLS Book Club selection is The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O’Farrell. New York Times bestselling author of award-winning Hamnet, O’Farrell, brings the world of Renaissance Italy to jewel-bright life in this unforgettable fictional portrait of the captivating young duchess Lucrezia de’ Medici as she makes her way in a troubled court.
CLS Book Club is open to all — whether you just finished the book, you’re half-way through, or you are contemplating whether or not to move the selection higher on your “To Be Read” list this discussion group has a space for you.
This event is free and open to the public with RSVP. To RSVP, fill out the form at the bottom of this page.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
Florence, the 1550s. Lucrezia, third daughter of the grand duke, is comfortable with her obscure place in the palazzo: free to wonder at its treasures, observe its clandestine workings, and devote herself to her own artistic pursuits. But when her older sister dies on the eve of her wedding to the ruler of Ferrara, Modena and Reggio, Lucrezia is thrust unwittingly into the limelight: the duke is quick to request her hand in marriage, and her father just as quick to accept on her behalf.
Having barely left girlhood behind, Lucrezia must now enter an unfamiliar court whose customs are opaque and where her arrival is not universally welcomed. Perhaps most mystifying of all is her new husband himself, Alfonso. Is he the playful sophisticate he appeared to be before their wedding, the aesthete happiest in the company of artists and musicians, or the ruthless politician before whom even his formidable sisters seem to tremble?
As Lucrezia sits in constricting finery for a painting intended to preserve her image for centuries to come, one thing becomes worryingly clear. In the court’s eyes, she has one duty: to provide the heir who will shore up the future of the Ferranese dynasty. Until then, for all of her rank and nobility, the new duchess’s future hangs entirely in the balance.
Full of the beauty and emotion with which she illuminated the Shakespearean canvas of Hamnet, Maggie O’Farrell turns her talents to Renaissance Italy in an extraordinary portrait of a resilient young woman’s battle for her very survival.
“O’Farrell pulls out little threads of historical detail to weave this story of a precocious girl sensitive to the contradictions of her station … You may know the history, and you may think you know what’s coming, but don’t be so sure.“ —The Washington Post
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
MAGGIE O’FARRELL was born in Northern Ireland in 1972. Her novels include Hamnet (winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award), After You’d Gone, The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox, The Hand That First Held Mine (winner of the Costa Novel Award), and Instructions for a Heatwave. She has also written a memoir, I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes with Death. She lives in Edinburgh.