From Publishers Weekly
The third of eight surviving children, Isabella de' Medici (1542–1576) was unusually close to her father, Cosimo, the powerful grand duke of Tuscany who built the Uffizi, and whose protection allowed her to live an autonomous, glittering Florentine life apart from her debt-ridden, abusive, playboy husband in Rome. After Cosimo's death in 1574, his spiteful eldest son and heir, Francesco, eager to make his mistress, the first lady of Florence, reneged on the inheritance Cosimo left Isabella and her children and effectively banished her lover from Florence by branding him a murderer. When the treasonous behavior and extramarital affairs of Isabella's sister-in-law Leonora became a symbol for the anarchy of Francesco's court, Francesco sanctioned Leonora's murder at her husband's hands and, soon after, Isabella's murder by her husband as well. Like the Kennedys or Windsors, the Medicis are a dynasty brimming with biographical gold, and this supple, smart account of a lesser-known daughter will engage modern readers as it vivifies both Renaissance Florence and an extraordinary woman who paid the ultimate price for flouting her era's traditional gender roles. Murphy (The Pope's Daughter
) is an art history professor at UC-Riverside. A Medici family tree, map of Florence and b&w illustrations of Renaissance Florence are welcome embellishments. (Apr.)
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"Murphy's book swoops and dazzles like the best fiction." --Entertainment Weekly
"This supple, smart account of a lesser-known daughter will engage modern readers as it vivifies both Renaissance Florence and an extraordinary woman who paid the ultimate price for flouting her era's traditional gender roles."--Publishers Weekly
"a fast-paced and detailed account of Italy's raciest princess." --Richmond Times-Dispatch
"Isabella de' Medici (1542-1576)was the daughter of Cosimo de' Medici, Duke of Florence. Murphy vividly chronicles Isabella's provocative, brief life
(she was murdered at age 34), liberally drawing on quotes from letters sent by a variety of key figures...This enjoyable page-turner would make a fantastic biopic."
"In Murder of a Medici Princess,
Murphy takes her readers on a compelling ride through the dark allure of Renaissance Italy, taking us deep into the drama of the Medici hierarchy in a story that brims with both beauty and corruption." --The Electric Review
"Caroline Murphy has brought to life an independent-minded Florentine princess and the loves, family conflicts, political plots and violence in which she was enmeshed. A gripping tale told with consumate historical skill."--Natalie Zemon Davis, author of The Return of Martin Guerre