E book excerpt: “The Marriage Portrait” by Maggie O’Farrell

Maggie O’Farrell, the creator of the acclaimed novel “Hamnet,” returns with a historic thriller, “The Marriage Portrait” (Knopf), a few teenage woman, a member of the House of Medici, who fears her husband is plotting to kill her.

Read an excerpt beneath.



A Wild and Lonely Place

Fortezza, close to Bondeno, 1561

Lucrezia is taking her seat on the lengthy eating desk, which is polished to a watery gleam and unfold with dishes, inverted cups, a woven circlet of fir. Her husband is sitting down, not in his customary place on the reverse finish however subsequent to her, shut sufficient that she may relaxation her head on his shoulder, ought to she want; he’s unfolding his serviette and straightening a knife and shifting the candle in the direction of them each on the subject of her with a peculiar readability, as if some colored glass has been put in entrance of her eyes, or maybe faraway from them, that he intends to kill her.

She is sixteen years previous, not fairly a 12 months into her marriage. They have travelled for a lot of the day, utilizing what little daylight the season presents, leaving Ferrara at daybreak and using out to what he had advised her was a looking lodge, far within the north-west of the province.

But that is no looking lodge, is what Lucrezia had wished to say after they reached their vacation spot: a high-walled edifice of darkish stone, flanked on one aspect by dense forest and on the opposite by a twisting meander of the Po river. She would have preferred to show in her saddle and ask, why have you ever introduced me right here?

She stated nothing, nonetheless, permitting her mare to comply with him alongside the trail, via dripping timber, over the arch-backed bridge and into the courtyard of the unusual, fortified, star-shaped constructing, which appeared, even then, to strike her as peculiarly empty of individuals.

The horses have been led away, she has eliminated her sodden cloak and hat, and he has watched her do that, standing along with his again to the blaze within the grate, and now he’s gesturing to the nation servants within the corridor’s outer shadows to step ahead and place meals on their plates, to slice the bread, to pour wine into their cups, and he or she is immediately recalling the phrases of her sister-in-law, delivered in a hoarse whisper: You will likely be blamed.

Lucrezia’s fingers grip the rim of her plate. The certainty that he means her to die is sort of a presence beside her, as if a dark-feathered chook of prey has alighted on the arm of her chair.

This is the explanation for his or her sudden journey to such a wild and lonely place. He has introduced her right here, to this stone fortress, to homicide her.

Excerpted from “The Marriage Portrait” by Maggie O’Farrell. Copyright © 2022 by Maggie O’Farrell. Excerpted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No a part of this excerpt could also be reproduced or reprinted with out permission in writing from the writer.

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