Heather's Reviews > His Last Duchess

His Last Duchess by Gabrielle Kimm
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's review
Sep 18, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: 16th-c, arc, art, historical-fiction, italy

The famous Robert Browning poem is getting quite the novel treatment these days – his first duchess, Lucrezia de Medici, and star of the poem, is featured in His Last Duchess by Gabrielle Kimm while his second duchess, Barbara of Austria, is featured in His Second Duchess by Elizabeth Loupas. His Last Duchess by Kimm does a wonderful job of taking what is given in the poem and building an entire world around it. Almost every detail that is given in the poem is integrated in some way. Even if you know the poem quite well you are still surprised at the twists and turns that are made throughout the novel. I loved the ending – you were not really sure what they were going to do next – the writing really kept you on the edge of your seat.

There is a small secondary storyline about a young girl that occasionally runs through the first half of the novel and then ties into the second half and becomes very important. I wish that during the first half it had been given a feel of some importance because I honestly had no idea of the point of this plot and blew it off to some extent. Another storyline that was added into the novel is the addition of the artists who create a fresco for Alfonso as well as the portrait of Lucrezia featured in the poem. I thought that this really helped to connect the actual portrait to the story from the poem. I also subsequently learned a lot about frescoes. Kimm provides vivid descriptions of the world around the characters so that you can see everything, including the artwork, in great detail.

A word of warning – there are many discussions of sex throughout the novel – between Alfonso and his wife as well as with his whore. Sometimes these can be somewhat graphic and very dark. I understand that this was to create the dark and twisted nature of Alfonso so that we can understand the decisions that he makes – however, I wouldn’t recommend this book to a young teen reader. I would say for those 16 and older.

There is an upcoming spin-off novel coming out based on Franchesca – Alfonso’s whore. While she was a well developed character in the novel, I don’t know that I felt enough about her to care to read her own novel

This book was received for review from the publisher - I was not compensated for my opinions and the above is my honest review.

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Reading Progress

July 19, 2011 – Shelved (Other Paperback Edition)
September 17, 2011 – Started Reading
September 18, 2011 – Shelved
September 20, 2011 –
page 21
September 21, 2011 –
page 57
September 23, 2011 –
page 85
September 24, 2011 –
page 117
September 25, 2011 –
page 260
September 27, 2011 –
page 300
September 29, 2011 –
page 364
September 29, 2011 – Shelved as: 16th-c
September 29, 2011 – Shelved as: arc
September 29, 2011 – Shelved as: art
September 29, 2011 – Shelved as: historical-fiction
September 29, 2011 – Shelved as: italy
September 29, 2011 – Finished Reading

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