PositiveLondon Review of Books (UK)Allusion redirects our attention, coming to rest on Lucrezia, the overlooked consort. She herself has a way of thinking about this process of replacement, the subversion of one narrative by another. A keen and talented artist, she learns early in the novel that oil paintings often contain underpaintings, whole scenes painted and then painted over by artists dissatisfied with their work or wishing to conceal it. In O’Farrell’s version of the story, Browning’s is still present, but her treatment half-obscures it, bringing what was underneath to the surface ... Her painterly way of understanding the world shapes not only how she conceptualises it, but also how it looks to the reader – what’s foregrounded and what isn’t, where the light falls ... The Marriage Portrait is obsessed with its own repeating designs, pointing out auguries and patterns everywhere; it has its own logic, and requires a sacrifice.