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The Marriage Portrait cover art

The Marriage Portrait

By: Maggie O'Farrell
Narrated by: Genevieve Gaunt
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Summary

The woman in the portrait is perfect. So why does she feel so terrified, so alone?

Florence, the 1560s. Lucrezia, third daughter of Cosimo de' Medici, is free to wander the palazzo at will, wondering at its treasures and observing its clandestine workings. But when her older sister dies on the eve of marriage to Alfonso d'Este, 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 to accept on her behalf.

Having barely left girlhood, Lucrezia must now make her way in a troubled court whose customs are opaque and where her arrival is not universally welcomed. Perhaps most mystifying of all is her husband himself, Alfonso. Is he the playful sophisticate he appears 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 uncomfortable finery for the painting that is 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 Ferrarese dynasty. Until then, for all of her rank and nobility, her future hangs entirely in the balance.

©2022 Maggie O'Farrell (P)2022 Headline Publishing Group Ltd

What listeners say about The Marriage Portrait

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Second time for me

Even better on second listen and I’ve also read the book. There is so much in this novel that, like the underpainting, needs time and patience to find.

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13 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Disappointing

Narration was rather flat and lacked engagement. I suspect the book comes over better when read rather than listened to. On a practical note, the idea that an oil painting can be taken fresh from painting and put inside a book is not credible. Oil paint takes weeks or months to dry. Thickly applied it can take up to a year. Both book and painting would have been ruined .

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6 people found this helpful

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Just stunning !she's done it again!

I loved Hamnet as it was so moving. We however are kept at arm's length whilst getting to know the delicious Lucrezia (who keeps small rodents in her hair and despite her containment is wry and perceptive). The language is as luscious as the countryside. The weaving of gas lightning, intrigue and murder keep the plot broiling. I gorged myself in a few sittings. In a gut wrenching twist o' farell delivers a denouement that is satisfying and imaginatively done.
At times the narrator is too laconic and detatched for my taste but there is a bewitching quality to her pronunciation.

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6 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Overwritten and slow.

I had read and enjoyed Hamnet and liked the premise of this novel but it was a huge disappointment, not helped in the least by the flat, monotonous and depressing narration which sucked out of it any life it might have had.
I found O'Farrell's style tedious and irritating. So many sentences have the same structure - subject, verb, object, that it began to grate quite early on. "She does this." "She thinks that" - so repetitive! Then there is the repetition of an idea for emphasis, never making one descriptive observation without the expressing it in an alternative way and then in a third, like three or four layers of icing on the same cake- unnecessary and sickly. I also found the symbolism overdone and too clunky. - the tigress= Lucrezia, it's death in the jaws of the lions = the death at the end of the book, the images of Lucrezia as imprisoned in her clothing - all too obvious.
The character development, such as there was, was sketchy so that the characters remained pretty two- dimensional, and the ending (which I had to Google as I couldn't bear to listen to any more)is ridiculous.

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Hmmm, not my favourite!

Didn't enjoy this much. The narration, while good quality, is extremely boring and flat and I couldn't wait to finish. The repetitive style of the writing also annoyed me. Good story with clever twist but definitely not one of Maggie O'Farrell's best!

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4 people found this helpful

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Brilliant!

Another super Maggie OF! Great narration and tense to the end - even though we all know the conclusion in advance! Loved it

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4 people found this helpful

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Highly tense and beautifully written

I am so relieved to have finished TMP. I feel like I have been on edge since I started it a few days ago! It has taken over my thoughts and the main characters would not leave me alone.
From Lucrezia’s birth, through childhood, into her marriage and beyond, I totally empathised with her. MO’F has created a whole, rounded person.
Absolutely beautiful descriptions throughout of places and clothes and people’s appearances, of food and room decorations and if the countryside. I could almost feel the fabrics under my fingers.
It will take me some time to recover from TMP!!!
Congratulations to Maggie O’Farrell!

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4 people found this helpful

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Fascinating

Amazing tale of the Medici family and an arranged marriage. Devoured it. Beautifully written story

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2 people found this helpful

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Atmospheric and interesting

I was utterly gripped from the start, and felt I was fully transported to 16th century Italy. Brilliantly performed.

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Ultimately Boring

I didn't bother to finish this book. I just got bored I wasn't interested. I tried my best, I wanted to enjoy it. i enjoyed Hamnet but this didn't come near that. Lovely writing and great moments but ultimately boring

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1 person found this helpful