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Gabrielle Kimm is the author of His Last Duchess and The Courtesan's Lover, also published by Sphere. She lives in rural West Sussex, and teaches English part-time at a small performing arts school.
Modena, Italy, 1582. Seventeen-year-old seamstress Sofia Genotti is on the run, falsely accused of theft. Penniless and desperate to avoid the perils of whoredom, she is introduced to a troupe of travelling actors, who ask her to join them as costume mistress. Within weeks she is learning to act. Acting will bring her closer to Beppe Bianchi, who plays the anarchic character Arlecchino. As the two become increasingly intimate, Sofia is sure that she has never been happier. But after a feted performance at an aristocrat's castle, she is accosted by the owner ...and the following morning he is found dead. Sofia is accused of murder. A tale of blackmail and and sexual jealousy will reveal the true killer and the redemptive power of theatre will triumph. If you like Philippa Gregory you will love The Girl with the Painted Face.
Italy, 1582. When young seamstress Sofia Genotti delivers a mended dress to a beautiful widow in Modena, she has no idea she's about to become entangled in a dangerous game. Discovering that the distraught widow is being forcibly kept from the man she loves by a gold-digger intent on helping himself to her inherited fortune, Sofia hatches a dangerous plan . . .Contains the opening chapters from Gabrielle's brand-new novel, The Girl with the Painted Face.
Francesca Felizzi, former mistress of the Duke of Ferrara, is now an aspiring courtesan. Astonishingly beautiful and ambitious, she revels in the power she wields over men. But when she is visited by an inexperienced young man, it becomes horribly clear to Francesca that despite her many admiring patrons, she has never truly been loved. Suddenly, her glittering and sumptuous life becomes a gaudy facade. And then another unexpected encounter brings with it devastating implications that plunge Francesca and her two young daughters into the sort of danger she has dreaded ever since she began to work the streets all those years ago.
When sixteen-year-old Lucrezia de' Medici marries the fifth Duke of Ferrara, Alfonso d'Este, she imagines life with her handsome husband will be idyllic. But little does she know that he is a very complicated man. The marriage is fraught with difficulties from the start, and, as time passes, Lucrezia becomes increasingly alienated. For Alfonso, the pressure mounts as the Vatican threatens to reclaim his title should the couple remain unable to produce an heir. Only his lover Francesca seems able to tame his increasing fury. But Alfonso's growing resentment towards his duchess soon becomes unbearable, and he begins to plot an unthinkable way to escape his problems. Originally inspired by a Robert Browning poem, His Last Duchess gorgeously brings to life the passions and people of sixteenth-century Tuscany and Ferrara. It is a story you are unlikely to forget for a long time.