His Last Duchess by Gabrielle Kimm

October 19, 2011

You say Lucrezia and I say Lucrezia

You probably don't know this, but one of my favorite historical peeps in the world was Lucrezia Borgia, so when His Last Duchess by Gabrielle Kimm was released I was very excited. However, even though my eyes were seeing the words Lucrezia de'Medici, my brain was interpreting those words as Lucrezia Borgia. So, when I began to read His Last Duchess nothing made sense. I mean really, I understand the words historical fiction. That is where you take history and change it to fit your fancy. But, this book was quite a stretch. I knew this was historical fiction, but Gee Willikers, this was really historical fiction. And then I reread the back blurb and saw the light. Wrong Lucrezia! Mind adjustment time. Now, it just so happens that everything turned out just fine, because this was a really good book.

It's been a while since I've read an historical fiction...I always find the rewriting of history intriguing. Especially, when things turn out a little happier than they actually did. As it turned out, Lucrezia de Medici was the daughter of Eleanor of Toledo, who happens to be the subject of one of my favorite portraits. When my mind finally figured out which person we were reading about, I also did some research of my own on Lucrezia's siblings...made for some fascinating reading.

In case you didn't guess from the mistake with the Lucrezia's, this story takes place in Renaissance Italy, a time and place that is vibrantly alive. This time period was filled with such opulent stories. It's a shame that it is mostly overlooked in Romanceland. His Last Duchess is Ms. Krimm's debut novel, however, it has a rich texture that brings the story to life. There were so many interesting things going on in this book, and the details on Fresco painting was quite engrossing. All of the characters in the book are vividly written, and Ms. Krimm does a fine job of weaving all the "what if's" into her story. Sometimes in historical fiction, I have a problem with the "what if's" b-e-c-a-u-s-e a lot of time there is a plethora of historical information out there and the historical fiction part of it too unbelievable...for instance Tudor England and Henry VIII. The Tudor's are really overdone, and please no more skinny people playing Henry VIII. However, in the case of Lucrezia de' Medici there is little written documentation, so we can create all manners of great stories about her.

His Last Duchess has some wonderfully poignant moments, some very suspenseful moments and a great villain (her husband.) This is a well written historical fiction book, rich in detail and if you like this genre, you'll love His Last Duchess.

Here are the real people. Eleanor of Toledo, the mother, Lucrezia de' Medici, the heroine and Alfonzo II d'Este, our villain.

Time/Place: Renaissance Italy
Sensuality Rating: Hot


Anonymous said...

I saw this book, but didn't buy it because I thought it was probably wrought around Robert Browning's poem "My Last Duchess." I guess not.

SidneyKay said...

Actually, Browning's poem may have influenced the author and the poem is in the back of the book. But, I think this is mostly Kimm.