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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Murder Of A Medici Princess by Caroline Murphy

This is a fascinating book about Isabella de Medici and her life as the daughter of Duke Cosimo, 1 ---one of intellectual and romantic freedom as long as her father was alive. Given in marriage to Paolo Orsini, she completely ignored her husband living apart from him, refusing to leave Florence, and eventually taking a lover.
Cosimo doted on his daughter permitting her opulant, extravagant and permissive life-style. However, upon his death he was succeeded by his dour son, Francesco, who regarded his sister's freedoms as a family disgrace. It was then that Isabella's fortunes changed. Her husband, Paolo, who became increasingly enraged by his wife's behavior, arranged with the help of Francesco to murder her---lots of intrigue and suspense to hold the reader captive!
The backdrop for this story is Renaissance Florence with its balls, salons, parties, and hunts. Murphy draws on a trove of newly discovered and published documents to tell this story of the Medici's and Florence in the sixteenth century---a most enjoyable and satisfying read.