It was agonizing getting through this book. Just when I was about to give up I would hit a chapter that was super interesting and had me riveted for 3-30 pages at a time, then it would go back to the slogging through unnecessary (?) bits. Well, I shouldn't say that... the abundance of details of mundane observations and daily activities is actually quite refreshing in a way. It anchored the characters' lives in the reality and almost had me believing they were fictionalized accounts of real people (note: they're not, the author even has a great detailed note at the end of the book).
A lot of the details ring true from the various odds and bobs of history that I've learned over the years; and in fact Donati's research was quite impressive and I added several of the books she used to my To Read list.
Honestly, I think I would have liked this book a lot more if I had a physical copy of it to curl up in a chair and read by the window during these cold days lately. Reading it on my Kindle was... disengaging somehow. Eh, oh well...
Overall, the book is best summed up by what the author herself said in her notes:
"This is one of the hardest things for a historical novelist to pull off: to tell a story based on facts that will be distasteful and off-putting to modern readers. Whether I have pulled this off is not for me to decide."