The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant
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. (Goodreads)
I have to say that I wanted to like this more than I did. I don’t know much about Italy and I wish I’d knew more about the things that happened in the book. I didn’t feel connected to the characters and the only one that I wanted to read about was the painter, who isn’t mentioned by name. I did some skipping in the beginning but it did get better towards the end.
Published: Random House (2004)
Source: my own