|The Birth of
Tale of art, love and betrayal in 15th-century Florence.
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
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, 1452-1498
Lorenzo de Medici