Last Duchesses

7 August 2010

I came across a couple of interesting looking books during this week’s hideous stroll around the vile miasma of horror that is Sainsbury’s. One of which is My Last Duchess, with a title taken from a poem by Robert Browning and the other His Last Duchess, which is derived from the subject matter of said poem.

My Last Duchess looks really good – it seems to be reminiscent of The Buccaneers and Pursuit of the Country, both of which I adore, and is about an American heiress, Cora Cash whose ambitious mother drags her to England in the hopes of marrying her off to a Duke.

I’ll definitely be buying a copy when it comes out in paperback!

His Last Duchess is rather different and is about the ill fated and somewhat mysterious marriage of the sixteen year old Lucrezia de’ Medici and Alfonso d’Este, Duke of Modena and Ferrara, who was the son of Princesse Renée de France (daughter of Francois I) and grandson of Lucrezia Borgia! Anyway, far from being a Georgette Heyer type romance about an arranged marriage with a happy ending, it seems that this will be a very different type of tale…

Here is a beautiful Bronzino portrait of the real Lucrezia de’ Medici, Duchess of Modena and Ferrara. I love Bronzino’s paintings – they are so sinister and smooth and almost too perfect.

That’s my last Duchess painted on the wall,
Looking as if she were alive. I call
That piece a wonder, now: Fra Pandolf’s hands
Worked busily a day, and there she stands.
Will’t please you sit and look at her?’

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