The Birth of Venus: A Novel
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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 burgeoning 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.
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Alessandra loves to draw and finds the new painter attractive and mysterious. With the French on the doorstep of Florence, Alessandra is given a choice of being sent to a convent or marrying quickly. Her married life is a disaster but Alessandra is allowed the freedom to pursue her art.
Like many of Dunant's books, this is a very sexual book and has a few twists and turns. I did find it quite unrealistic that a child like Alessandra would be so worldly and knowledgeable sexually. That aside, I did find the book interesting in the historical area and a different turn on possible events.