Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Review: The Birth of Venus, by Sarah Dunant

In the late 15th century, at the height of the Renaissance, Florence is undergoing a transformation in terms of thought and principles. After many years of wealth, Florence finds itself held in thrall by the charismatic Dominican monk Savonarola.

At the same time, a young girl named Alessandra Cecci comes of age. She’s intelligent and free-spirited, but her life is more or less prescribed for her when she marries. Her life changes when a celebrated and unnamed painter comes to paint the ceiling of the Cecci family’s chapel. From there on out, Alessandra is torn between her desire to have the freedom to paint and the frustration she feels at having to follow the traditional path of a late-15th century Florentine woman. Dunant has a flair for writing description, and she really puts it to good use in this novel.

Although Dunant, who’s also written a number of modern-day crime novels, hits the reader over the head a little too much with her erotic sex scenes, her writing and sense for language is superb. Alessandra’s mysterious painter is never named, and right up through the end of the novel, he’s depicted as this brooding, silent, worldly type. Every girl's fantasy, right? And although Alessandra’s mindset is a little bit too modern-day for my taste, it’s clear that Dunant has put a lot of time, and effort, into doing the painstaking research necessary for such a book.

9 comments:

Lezlie said...

I was luke-warm on this one. I loved "In The Company of the Courtesan" though. There is a review on my blog, if you're interested!

Have a great day!
Lezlie

Confuzzled Books said...

This sounds like one I might be interested. Thanks. Before just the cover attracted me now I interested on what inside.

Amanda said...

Yay! Thanks for linking my review. I did the same on mine. I also found her novel "In The Company of the Courtesan" at used at an antique shop near my house so I'll see how that one goes :)

Marg said...

I really enjoyed this when I read it a number of years ago.

nbbaker1102 said...

I liked this one, myself. I hadn't read too much about Florence, so it was someting new.

Dar said...

I've had this one on my shelf for a while now and have heard many good things about it. I really must get to it one day.

Iliana said...

This was one of those books that I got pretty soon after it came out and I guess I just kept hearing about it so much that it just became a shelf sitter. I've liked some of her other novels quite a bit and one of these days I will get to this one :)

Dorothy W. said...

I enjoyed listening to this one on audio -- it was a good story and the time period was interesting. Glad you enjoyed it!

Teddy Rose said...

This one is On my TBR and I own it, as my SIL gave it to me. I tried to read "In The Company of the Courtesan" awhile back, but I just couldn't stand the crude dwarf. LOL!

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