Book Review: Murder of a Medici Princess

Murder of a Medici Princess

Caroline P Murphy

Oxford University Press

416 pages

Yes everyone, I am still alive—if anyone was wondering.  I have been super busy with moving this week, which means I have not been as good about posting reviews.  But without further ado, I bring to you the review of Murder of a Medici Princess, by Caroline Murphy.

The Medicis are one of the most important families, if not THE most important family, in Italian history.  As many of you know, I was in Florence last week, so to prep myself for my trip, I decided to read some books either about Italian culture or set in Italy .  And to be really acquainted with my surroundings, I knew I had to read something involving the Medicis.

The book is pretty much a biography of Isabella de’ Medici, who lived from 1542 to 1576.  Her father was the renowned ruler Cosimo de Medici and Isabella was supposedly his favored child.  Isabella married a real loser in her teens—Paolo Giordano Orsini.  Once a highly respected family, the Orsinis had seemingly fallen from grace.  Cosimo, being the loving father that he was, negotiated a way for Isabella to continue living with her family in Florence as opposed to being with her husband, which was a complete rarity at the time (and still is I suppose!).  Isabelle was not your typical 16th century woman.  She did what she wanted, often signing her name as Medici rather than Orsini.

Eventually Isabella began to have an affair with Troilo Orsini, Paolo’s cousin.  Obviously Paolo did not look kindly on this, nor did Isabella’s brother Francesco, who had become the Grand Duke upon Cosimo’s death.  Francesco, bear in mind, was portrayed as a conniving troll throughout the book, and eventually became hard to distinguish who to loathe more—Francesco or Paolo.

As for the murder, I won’t spoil it for you, although I suppose the title already gave away the climax of the book.  I will admit, by the time I made it towards the end of the book, I was too bored to care.  I really am not sure what my problem was.  The Medicis were a colorful family with a lot of grievances.  There was plenty of interesting information in the book that should have held my attention, but it just fell flat for me.  There were a few parts of the book where I would start getting more excited about where the book was heading, and then all of a sudden it would get boring again.  There were many a time when I considered putting the book down all together, but I kept on keeping on.  Maybe I am just so accustomed to historical fiction, where the author takes the fun parts and weaves a story from them, that I can’t handle a regular biography at this point.  If that is the case, I feel bad for myself. At any rate, my mom read this book and enjoyed it, so it will definitely appeal to some.  Just not me.

Other Reviews:

Tanzanite’s Shelf and Stuff

I borrowed this book from my mother.

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5 Responses

  1. Well, damn, it was sounding so good. I read a fictional book about Lucrezia Borgia a few years ago that was quite good…it portrays her as not quite so bad. And The Secret Book of Grazia dei Rossi was long, but interesting. Of course, now that your back from Italy you’re probably not looking to read historical fiction set in Italy. 😀

  2. The Medici family was very interesting, diabolical, but interesting.

    Too bad it wasn’t good through and through.

  3. Too bad this wasn’t very interesting, because the title made me perk up and take notice right away!

  4. Just read Isabella de Medici written by the same author. I couldn’t put it down. Not a moments boredom.Bought it when in Florence recently. Found Troilo Orsini fascinating even thought there isn’t much know about his life.

  5. I loved this book. Fell in love with the story of Isabella. This has book provided a narrative from which to enjoy Florence and other Tuscan towns on more than one occasion. As an aside, I have looked everywhere for Isabella’s grave, but a local tour guide mentioned she may not be marked because of the scandal. That’s harsh.

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