Maggie O'Farrell

Author's books

The Marriage Portrait


‘Every bit as evocative and spellbinding as Hamnet . O’Farrell, thank God, just seems to be getting better and better’ i newspaper
‘Her narrative enchantment will wrest suspense and surprise out of a death foretold’ Financial Times
‘Ingenious, inventive, humane, wry, truthful . . . better than her last novel’ Scotsman
‘Finely written and vividly imagined’ Guardian
‘In O’Farrell’s hands, historical detail comes alive’ Spectator

Marriage was her destiny. Now she must survive it.

The breathtaking new novel from the No. 1 bestselling author of Hamnet, winner of
the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2020.


The Marriage Portrait is a dazzling evocation of the Italian Renaissance in all its beauty and brutality.

Winter, 1561. Lucrezia, Duchess of Ferrara, is taken on an unexpected visit to a country villa by her husband, Alfonso. As they sit down to dinner it occurs to Lucrezia that Alfonso has a sinister purpose in bringing her here. He intends to kill her.

Lucrezia is sixteen years old, and has led a sheltered life locked away inside Florence’s grandest palazzo. Here, in this remote villa, she is entirely at the mercy of her increasingly erratic husband.

What is Lucrezia to do with this sudden knowledge? What chance does she have against Alfonso, ruler of a province, and a trained soldier? How can she ensure her survival.

The Marriage Portrait is an unforgettable reimagining of the life of a young woman whose proximity to power places her in mortal danger.