A Novel of Medici Florence

By Elizabeth Loupas
New American LibraryApril 2014

Trade Paperback448 pages, $16.00, ISBN: 9780451418876
Subject: History / Intrigue / Mystery

  1. What did you enjoy most about The Red Lily Crown?
  2. What most intrigued and shocked you about the depiction of life in the Medici royal court?
  3. Chiara Nerini manages to survive many scandals and murders. Discuss the choices she makes that help keep her alive. When does she act wisely and when does she just get lucky?
  4. Both Chiara and Ruan have strong feelings for their childhood homes, in Cornwall and Florence. Discuss the origins of those feelings. Have you ever felt a similar emotional attachment to a particular place?
  5. As you read the novel, did your feelings for Bianca Cappello change? At any point, do you find her sympathetic? Is she in some ways as trapped by her circumstances as Chiara is?
  6. Discuss the factors that blind Isabella and Dianora to the danger they face because of their infidelities and scandals. What might they have done differently?
  7. Discuss Francesco de’ Medici’s complex character. Do you agree that he was not particularly suited to be a grand duke? How might his life have unfolded without that responsibility? Compare him to his brother Ferdinando.
  8. At points in the novel, Ruan and Chiara are both driven by a desire for revenge. Discuss how that desire plays out. Are they saved by it, or corrupted by it?
  9. Even today, we remain fascinated by ancient texts that promise secrets to achieve power, health and immortality. Discuss examples from popular culture that exploit this fascination. Why do you think we find such knowledge irresistible? Does something in our nature beyond a simple fear of death explain it? When does such a pursuit become dangerous?
  10. What adjustments do you imagine Chiara will have to make as Ruan’s wife living in Cornwall? How do you think the locals will perceive her, and how will having an Italian mother affect her children?
  11. What do you think you will take away from the novel? What aspect left the strongest impression?