The Birth of Venus Author:Sarah Dunant Alessandra Cecchi is not quite fifteen when her father, a prosperous cloth merchant, brings a young painter back from northern Europe to decorate the chapel walls in the family?s Florentine palazzo. A child of the Renaissance, with a precocious mind and a talent for drawing, Alessandra is intoxicated by the painter?s abilities. — But their burgeo... more »ning relationship is interrupted when Alessandra?s parents arrange her marriage to a wealthy, much older man. Meanwhile, Florence is changing, increasingly subject to the growing suppression imposed by the fundamentalist monk Savonarola, who is seizing religious and political control. Alessandra and her native city are caught between the Medici state, with its love of luxury, learning, and dazzling art, and the hellfire preaching and increasing violence of Savonarola?s reactionary followers. Played out against this turbulent backdrop, Alessandra?s married life is a misery, except for the surprising freedom it allows her to pursue her powerful attraction to the young painter and his art.
The Birth of Venus is a tour de force, the first historical novel from one of Britain?s most innovative writers of literary suspense. It brings alive the history of Florence at its most dramatic period, telling a compulsively absorbing story of love, art, religion, and power through the passionate voice of Alessandra, a heroine with the same vibrancy of spirit as her beloved city.« less
Dunant does a gorgeous job of describing Renaissance Florence. The young heroine, Alessandra, is overwhelmed with curiosity and a passion for painting. Thrown in the middle of a town ruled by a religious tyrant, stuck in a marriage of convenience, Alessandra must try to keep herself a lady instead of filling her passions. Beautiful writing, incredible descriptions. This book will stick with you.
Fascinating look at 15th century (Renaissance)Italy at the time of the death of Lorenzo de Medici and the 4-year reign of the fire-and-brimstone- preacher, Savonarola. Interesting characters --- especially, Alessandra the narrator and protagonist, her mother, and Erila family slave, nurse and chaperone to Alessandra. Two poignant male characters, Alessandra's antagonistic brother Tomaso, and Cristoforo... No more said. Read the book. It's a fast read and will peak your curiosity about 15th century Italy, the Renaissance and its art and artists.
I enjoyed this book. It had good historical background. It made me think of Jane Austen's books, the focus on the disadvantages of being a woman in those times. I wish it had more detailed encounters between Alessandra and the painter. It just seemed there was a lacking in there secret longing for each other. It could be more convincing. But, overall it was a good read.