The Birth of Venus
Sarah Dunant

Tale of art, love and betrayal in 15th-century Florence.
Recommendation: Beautiful novel Cover: Hardcover
Category: Fiction # Pages: 416
Date Purchased: N/A Finished: 4-Oct-2004

Story of the coming of age of a 14-yr-old girl in late 15th-century Florence, at the time of the fall of the Medici's and the rise to power of the Dominican monk Savonarola.

Alessandra is the daughter of a rich cloth merchant. Unlike other girls, she isn't content just to remain coquettish, but is highly educated, well read and dreams of becoming a painter, like the famous Ghirlandaio. When Alessandra's father hires a young monk to paint the family chapel, Alessandra is fascinated and defies her mother in order to give the painter some samples of her drawings, curious whether she has talent or not. However, when Florence comes under the power of the fundamentalist monk Savonarola, the city becomes a city where it is no longer proper for young girls to be interested in art and books and Alessandra's parents arrange to have her wed to a middle-aged-nobleman. As she soon discovers, however, her new husband is not exactly what he seems and Alessandra enters into a world of secrets and intrigue.

Part historical portrait of Renaissance Florence and part coming of age story, Dunant's novel does a superb job of capturing the beauty and culture of Florence in the time of Lorenzo the Magnificent and Savonarola.

Some links relating to Florence and the Renaissance:
    Renaissance--Focus on Florence
    Florence Art and History
    Women in Renaissance Florence
    Girolamo Savonarola
    Girolamo Savonarola, 1452-1498
    Lorenzo de Medici