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The Birth of Venus

de Sarah Dunant

MembresRessenyesPopularitatValoració mitjanaConverses / Mencions
6,3371631,570 (3.66)1 / 200
From its first arresting sentence, Sarah Dunant's magnificent novel embroils the reader in the coming-of-age story of Alessandra Cecchi, a fourteen-year-old girl with a strong will and a passion for painting. The Birth of Venus is a tour de force, the first historical novel from one of Britain's most innovative writers of literary suspense. 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. It brings alive the history of Florence at its most dramatic period, telling a compulsively absorbing story of love, art, religion, and power through the passionate voice of Alessandra, a heroine with the same vibrancy of spirit as her beloved city.… (més)
  1. 11
    The Agony and the Ecstasy: A Biographical Novel of Michelangelo de Irving Stone (ddelmoni)
    ddelmoni: Great historical fiction about Michaelangelo and the Italian Renissance.
  2. 00
    I, Mona Lisa de Jeanne Kalogridis (jordantaylor)
    jordantaylor: More historical fiction set in 1400's Florence, closely tied with the art world and the religious teachings of Savonarola.
  3. 00
    Sacred Hearts de Sarah Dunant (lizchris)
    lizchris: Both about Medieval convent life
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This historical fiction novel is notable to me for not reading 21st century feminism onto the past, as unfortunately many historical fiction women's stories tend to do. In too many of the latter kind of novel, the author portrays heroines who break out of the mold of their time, have a free-thinking and independent mind, and fight against stereotypes to do what they want. Here, Alessandra is fully a woman of her time, and thus more realistic than other such heroines. She believes in G-d and heaven and hell, and while she does complain about the restraints that lock her into her time and place and social restrictions, she is smart enough to know how to act within them to achieve her ends. Thank you to the author for creating a realistic woman of her time and place. ( )
  ChayaLovesToRead | Jun 2, 2024 |
Historical Fiction
  BooksInMirror | Feb 19, 2024 |
The Birth of Venus. Sarah Dunant. 2004. I needed a brake after reading the gritty books annotated above. Alessandra is a teenager when her father brings an artist to their home in Florence to paint murals on the wall of their chapel. She is immediately attracted by his artistic skill and his shy, mysterious personality. Even in Renaissance it is not acceptable for a woman to become an artist so she is married off to a rich older man. On her wedding night she realizes this will not be a normal marriage by any means. The author does a marvelous job of picturing Florence during the time of the Medici and Savonarola, and this, plus the descriptions of the art and artistic techniques and home life during this era is much more interesting than the unrealistic, weird plot line. Graphic sexual scenes and lots of violence will probably turn off to some as some was really hard to take. ( )
  judithrs | Apr 29, 2023 |
8497936329
  archivomorero | Feb 13, 2023 |
With Savonarola, the Bonfires of the Vanities, and the religious fervor that swept Florence in the 1490s as its historical reference, Dunant has chosen to tell the story of Alessandra Cecchi, a strong-willed girl who influences a young painter. Coming from an upper-class family and schooled beyond the normal level for girls of her time, Alessandra has a love of art and an understanding of classics that drive her to live an unusual life, and give her a platform from which to bear witness to both the wonders of, and dissolution of, the great city of Florence.

I enjoyed the details about the city, the history and the culture of 1490s Florence. It was interesting to see how the death of Lorenzo de Medici affected the entire future of the city-state he ruled and how easily it slipped from enlightened to fanatic. I had been unaware that Florence had its own version of the Spanish Inquisition, but then I suppose most places suffered from such excesses during this age. I believe it would have been very difficult to be a woman at this time, let alone a woman who wanted to be more than just a wife and a mother.

The story was well-written and flowed well, the characters were realistic and interesting. Alessandra Cecchi is painted as vividly as the Renaissance art she so admires, and the Florence of her time comes alive.
( )
  mattorsara | Aug 11, 2022 |
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To my mother, Estelle, and my daughters Zoe and Georgia.
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No one had seen her naked until her death. (Prologue)
Looking back now I see it more as an act of pride than kindness that my father brought the young painter back with him from the North that spring.
There is one thing I have forgotten. (Epilogue)
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The birth of Venus -- translations include "De geboorte van Venus, liefde en dood in Florence; Veneros gimimas; Venuksen syntymä; Venus' fødsel, kærlighed og død i Firenze; Venus födelse; Amor y muerte en Florencia; Amor e morte em Florença; Das Zeichen der Venus; la nascita di Venere; Narodziny Wenus"
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From its first arresting sentence, Sarah Dunant's magnificent novel embroils the reader in the coming-of-age story of Alessandra Cecchi, a fourteen-year-old girl with a strong will and a passion for painting. The Birth of Venus is a tour de force, the first historical novel from one of Britain's most innovative writers of literary suspense. 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. It brings alive the history of Florence at its most dramatic period, telling a compulsively absorbing story of love, art, religion, and power through the passionate voice of Alessandra, a heroine with the same vibrancy of spirit as her beloved city.

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Mitjana: (3.66)
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