21 Apr 2024




Genre ...  Historical fiction

Publication Date ... 18th April 2024

Standalone Novel

Estimated Page Count ... 380

Author Content Warning ... There are some sex scenes, in some of which coercive control is exercised (I don’t mean bondage but emotional coercion). These are not gratuitous scenes but are based on historic record and are there to advance the plot.

Order Link ... https://www.amazon.co.uk/Maiden-Florence-Katherine-Mezzacappa/dp/1914148509/

Florence, 1584. Rumours are spreading about the virility of a prince marrying into the powerful Medici family. Orphan Giulia is chosen to put an end to the gossip. In return she will keep her life - and start a new one with a dowry and her own husband. Cloistered since childhood and an innocent in a world ruled by men, Giulia reluctantly agrees, only to be drawn under the control of the Medicis' lecherous minister. Years later, married and with a growing family, Giulia hopes she has finally escaped the legacy of her past. But when a threat arrives from a sinister figure from her youth, she must finally take control of events - and become the author of her own story.

Based on true events and reminiscent of 'The Marriage Portrait' by Maggie O'Farrell, 'The Maiden of Florence' gives a charismatic voice to a woman cast aside by history.

Even more than historical fiction, I enjoy historical fiction that, as with The Maiden Of Florence, is based on actual events.

Expecting a story that was pretty much of a sameness to others that I have read set during this time and place in history {16th century Italy}, what I actually got was something quite different.

A bit more sexually detailed than I had expected; nothing too gratuitous though, as I'm sure was the author's intent, the minister Vinta's lecherous behaviour throughout the book and in particular during the early scenes left me feeling decidedly uncomfortable.

In fact this aspect of the novel proved to be really interesting as, whilst I have read many books in which the lengths to which the aristocracy/royalty would go to to prove the virginity of a bride were described, the notion of it being used to provide evidence of the groom's ability to, err, perform on his marriage bed/impregnate a woman was new to me.

Told mainly from Giulia's perspective. Her fear, her sadness, her trauma, her sacrifice, her love of her family, all beautifully depicted and painfully palpable. In perfect contrast, equally enjoyable are the portions of the story given over to Giuliano, the poor musician who becomes her husband and saviour ... just as in many ways she becomes his. Bravo! These are such intelligently written characters that will stay with me for a long, long while.

Recounted with a great and yet human insight into Renaissance Italy. The author perfectly captures what I imagine it was to be a woman and especially a woman such as Giulia; living life by the constraints of gender, society and religion, living life dominated by not just powerful men but men in general. Yes, in many ways her's is a stark story BUT it is also a story of resilience, of achievement, of triumph and, perhaps most of all, hope.

Definitely an author to keep a look out for, this has to be one on my favourite reads of 2024.

Katherine Mezzacappa is an Irish writer of mainly historical fiction, currently living in Italy. She has published several novels under pen names with publishers Bonnier Zaffre and eXtasy. She works as a manuscript assessor for The Literary Consultancy. Katherine reviews for Historical Novel Society’s quarterly journal and is one of the organisers of the Society’s 2022 UK conference. In her spare time she volunteers with a used book charity of which she is a founder member.

Social Media Links ... X {Formerly Twitter} FaceBook  

With thanks to Rachel of Rachel's Random Resources for organising a paper copy. One of several bloggers participating in the Blog Tour of this book, agree or disagree with me, all opinions are my own; no financial compensation was asked for nor given; threats of violence towards my favourite teddy bear went unheeded as did promises of chocolate.

Share the love by following their blog.

Take a few minutes to check out their newest post and leaving a comment, you’ll instantly put a smile on their face.

Share on FaceBook, X, Pinterest, and other social media sites, it shows that you care about their work and want others to enjoy it too!

The next time you see their post pop up on your feed, hit the like button, leave a comment, or even share it with your followers. It’ll defiantly make their day. 


Kelly said...

I think this sounds very interesting. It's been awhile since I've read any historical fiction from that time and place. I've not read the Maggie O'Farrell novel mentioned, either. I'll have to keep my eyes open for both.

nightwingsraven said...

This sounds like an interesting and
compelling book and Giulia and Giuliano
sound like truly memorable characters.
I will keep this book in mind. And thank
you for your excellent review.