The Coutesan's LoverWhen I finally finished writing ‘His Last Duchess’, I knew I had completed the journey I had been making with my characters for so long:  they all still had things to do, places to go, feelings to experience, but I no longer wanted  – or needed  – to share them.  Except for one character.  Francesca.  Francesca Felizzi, who had been mistress to my duke, Alfonso d’Este, in ‘His Last Duchess’ continued to niggle at me, intruding into my thinking, tapping me on the shoulder and asking me to listen to her, and it began to dawn on me that I was going to need to give her a book of her own.

At the end of ‘Duchess’, I had packed Francesca off to Napoli – really only to get her away from Alfonso at that point – but I began to start wondering about where she had actually settled and what she was doing.

And so ‘The Courtesan’s Lover’ was born.

Francesca is living in Napoli now, fighting her way up the impossible ladder towards the goal of becoming a ‘cortigiana onesta’ – the most prestigious of the courtesans.    She enjoys the effect her considerable beauty has on men, and revels in the power she has over those she chooses to bed.  At the time the novel opens, she has perhaps become complacent about the progress she is making towards her goal, but then she has every reason to be:  things are going well.

But, out of the blue, a visit from an inexperienced boy leaves Francesca shocked and confused.  It suddenly becomes unpleasantly clear to her that, despite her many admiring patrons, she has never been truly loved;  in the face of this  boy’s tenderness, her glittering and sumptuous life now seems little more than a gaudy façade.   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 first walked the streets all those years ago.

More to come – more pics and news about the novel’s progress. 

Publication date is 24th November 2011.