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The Birth of Venus

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Alessandra is not quite fifteen when her prosperous merchant father brings a young painter back with him from Holland to adorn the walls of the new family chapel. She is fascinated by his talents and envious of his abilities and opportunities to paint to the glory of God. Soon her love of art and her lively independence are luring her into closer involvement with all sorts of taboo areas of life. On excursions into the streets of night-time Florence she observes a terrible evil stalking the city and witnesses the rise of the fiery young priest, Savanarola, who has set out to rid the city of vice, richness, even art itself. Alessandra must make crucial decisions about the shape of her adult life, as Florence itself must choose between the old ways of the luxury-loving Medicis and the asceticism of Savanorola. And through it all, there is the painter, whose love will change everything. Hide synopsis

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Reviews of The Birth of Venus

Overall customer rating: 4.500
Rosalie S

Atmospheric

by Rosalie S on Aug 26, 2010

Haven't finished reading yet, but all as I expected

Suzanne

What an opening line!

by Suzanne on Jun 30, 2007

I can?t say I felt bowled over by this book, but I had a hard time putting it down. Like the young heroine, Alessandra Cecchi, I have little patience for the severely restricted world that women were allowed to experience in Florence in the late 1400?s. Born into the glory days of the Renaissance, as well as monk Savonarola?s holier-than-thou, violent reign of terror, Alessandra?s experiences are defined more than anything by her belief in god. She aspires to be a painter, but never is allowed to train with anyone since she?s a woman. This is all the more reason why she?s drawn to the artist her father brings to their palazzo from the north to paint their family chapel. Alessandra agrees to marry an older man in the hope of finding more freedom for herself, but alas, like so many women, she finds married life is not what she thought it would be! She?s a good example of how people do what they have to do, given the place and time they live in, and her clever slave Erila shows that some freedom and power can be found in unexpected places. Her husband Cristoforo, her mean-spirited brother Tomaso, and the artist her father hired all harbor big surprises for her. Worth reading.

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snk5454

Art, love, politics

by snk5454 on Apr 3, 2007

Fascinating story set in 16th century Florence that paints a vivid picture of life in that time and place as seen through the eyes of a privileged young woman. I highly recommend it.

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