The Maiden of Florence
by Katherine Mezzacappa
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 gain her freedom, and start a new life 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.
‘In The Maiden of Florence, Katherine Mezzacappa crafts a sensuous and raw story about beauty, sex, sacrifice, and a mother’s undying love, a moving delineation of what it means to be a humble pawn of powerful men finding dignity amid the chessboard of Renaissance Italy’ — Gina Buonaguro, author of The Virgins of Venice
‘Katherine Mezzacappa’s historical novel, The Maiden of Florence, was a delight to read. She has succeeded in seamlessly weaving faultless research into a fascinating true story. The novel is set in 16th-century Italy and shifts between Florence, Venice, and Mantua, which are all brought to life with authentic details that deftly bridge the centuries separating the reader from Giulia Albizzi, the protagonist. What stands out about this wonderful novel is how, as the reader follows Giulia’s struggle to lead a meaningful life despite the odds stacked so massively against her, Mezzacapa has succeeded in showing the immutable workings of the human heart underlying this unforgettable story.‘ — Elizabeth Mac Donald, author of A Matter of Interpretation