Read O Nascimento de Vénus by Sarah Dunant Online


Florença, século XV. Numa das mais esplendorosas cidades da Itália Renascentista, Alessandra deseja o impossível…Alessandra Cecchi tem quase quinze anos quando o pai, um próspero mercador de tecidos, contrata um jovem pintor para pintar um fresco na capela do palazzo da família. Alessandra é uma filha da Renascença, tem uma mente precoce e um temperamento artístico… e rapiFlorença, século XV. Numa das mais esplendorosas cidades da Itália Renascentista, Alessandra deseja o impossível…Alessandra Cecchi tem quase quinze anos quando o pai, um próspero mercador de tecidos, contrata um jovem pintor para pintar um fresco na capela do palazzo da família. Alessandra é uma filha da Renascença, tem uma mente precoce e um temperamento artístico… e rapidamente fica inebriada pelo génio do pintor.Muitos anos depois, a irmã Lucrezia morre no convento onde passou grande parte da sua vida. Perplexas, as outras freiras observam a estranha serpente tatuada no seu corpo. É que, antes de entrar para o convento, a irmã Lucrezia era Alessandra. Jovem, bela e inteligente, ela viveu o esplendor e luxo da Florença renascentista, conviveu com os ricos e poderosos, criou, amou, transgrediu... Como foi ela parar àquele convento? O que significa a tatuagem na sua pele? Quais foram afinal as causas da sua morte? Romance de amor, mistério e arte, O Nascimento de Vénus dá-nos a conhecer um irreverente elenco de mulheres inesquecíveis, que nos abrem as portas da Florença renascentista, um dos mais formidáveis centros de cultura e arte da história da humanidade....

Title : O Nascimento de Vénus
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9789892316734
Format Type : Capa Mole
Number of Pages : 413 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

O Nascimento de Vénus Reviews

  • Lesley Visutsiri
    2019-04-05 17:42

    After reading this for the second time I wish I could give it higher than five stars. I discovererd new things about this book that I hadn't caught before. Such a wonderful book and I can't wait to read it for the third time!This is an absolutely amazing book. The author has done a lot of research and it shows in her writing. This is a historical fiction. The imagery is wonderful and you really get wrapped up in the lives of the Character. Now that I have been studying Mythology I would like to read it again and see what mythic images I can get from it based on Botticelli's painting.

  • Chrissie
    2019-04-12 20:48

    Halfway through the book: I do NOT think this is a wonderful book. I am terribly disappointed. Description of Renaissence Florence is fine. I have no quibbles with that, but the plot is so foreseeable, so predictable. The characters seem as modern day caricatures. For me this is pure fluff. Am I learning anything new, to compensate for all my my other disappointments? No!On completion: If you want to read a book about art during the Italian Renaissence read The Agony and the Ecstasy: A Biographical Novel of Michelangelo. You will learn something there, and the time spent reading will be enjoyable. If you are looking for a light fiction novel where lead characters just happen to meet all the right people at the right points in time, where all the strings of lfe are neatly tied up, where character portrayal is shallow, go ahead - read "The Birth of Venus". Then read "The Agony and the Ecstasy" and make a comparison. You will see what I mean. Here is my review of Stone's book, which I gave 4 stars: the other hand I did very much enjoy Dunant's In the Company of the Courtesan.I will give "The Birth of Venus" 2 stars b/c I did bother to complete it. Do keep in mind that is is a very light read.

  • Aditi
    2019-03-26 20:23

    “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”----Pablo PicassoSarah Dunant, the British bestselling novelist, has penned a delectable and extremely tempting historical fiction, The Birth of Venus that is set against the backdrop of the Renaissance Florence and that which revolves around a young 14 year old girl who is not beautiful or skilled like her elder sister, yet her talent and eye for art and mind for translating languages is extraordinary but with the changing times, she is forced into matrimony at a tender age, and little did she knew what fight she is put up for, in the name of honor, respect and womanhood during the Dominican rule in the 15th century Florence.Synopsis: Sarah Dunant's gorgeous and mesmerizing novel, Birth of Venus, draws readers into a turbulent 15th-century Florence, a time when the lavish city, steeped in years of Medici family luxury, is suddenly besieged by plague, threat of invasion, and the righteous wrath of a fundamentalist monk. Dunant masterfully blends fact and fiction, seamlessly interweaving Florentine history with the coming-of-age story of a spirited 14-year-old girl. As Florence struggles in Savonarola's grip, a serial killer stalks the streets, the French invaders creep closer, and young Alessandra Cecchi must surrender her "childish" dreams and navigate her way into womanhood. Readers are quickly seduced by the simplicity of her unconventional passions that are more artistic than domestic:Dancing is one of the many things I should be good at that I am not. Unlike my sister. Plautilla can move across the floor like water and sing a stave of music like a song bird, while I, who can translate both Latin and Greek faster than she or my brothers can read it, have club feet on the dance floor and a voice like a crow. Though I swear if I were to paint the scale I could do it in a flash: shining gold leaf for the top notes falling through ochres and reds into hot purple and deepest blue.Alessandra's story, though central, is only one part of this multi-faceted and complex historical novel. Dunant paints a fascinating array of women onto her dark canvas, each representing the various fates of early Renaissance women: Alessandra's lovely (if simple) sister Plautilla is interested only in marrying rich and presiding over a household; the brave Erila, Alessandra's North African servant (and willing accomplice) has such a frank understanding of the limitations of her sex that she often escapes them; and Signora Cecchi, Alessandra's beautiful but weary mother tries to encourage yet temper the passions of her wayward daughter. A luminous and lush novel, The Birth of Venus, at its heart, is a mysterious and sensual story with razor-sharp teeth. Like Alessandra, Dunant has a painter's eye--her writing is rich and evocative, luxuriating in colors and textures of the city, the people, and the art of 15th-century Florence. Reminiscent of Tracy Chevalier's Girl with a Pearl Earring, but with sensual splashes of color and the occasional thrill of fear, Dunant's novel is both exciting and enchanting. Alessandra Cecchi, the 14 year teenage daughter of a reputed merchant is more passionate about painting and translating languages, rather than being interested in womanly dreams like being a mother and a wife and honing off the girly skills to impress the best suitors. And with the arrival of a unknown yet extremely talented young artist in their family home, Alessandra can gradually feel the spasms of attraction and weakness of her young heart, but as Florence comes under the strict Dominican rule of Girolamo Savonarola and the possibility of a war, Alessandra's father make haste to marry off her unwed daughter to a suitable suitor in order to protect her. And the only suitor he managed to get for his young daughter is a very old, prosperous and lonely family friend, Cristoforo. Reluctantly Alessandra says yes to this alliance, and unfortunately she becomes a victim to an ugly truth about her husband that finally spins off her life out of control. So with the support and trust of her servant, Erila, an African slave, Alessandra explores the art, history and the dark secrets of the beautiful and charming city of Florence, all the while finding herself and the desires of her soul. Maybe its my weakness towards reading historical fiction that led me to this enchanting yet slightly disappointing book, The Birth of Venus where the story line may lack development and reality yet somehow the backdrop allured me to lose myself into the heavy Italian flair layered well with the snippets of Renaissance era. The story is, no doubt, addictive but here and there, the story lacks from depth hence the readers will failed to acquire a clear perspective to contemplate with the story line. Reading this book made me realize that the author has done her research well enough to paint this simple story with so much deep knowledge about Florence during the period of Renaissance.The author's writing style is classy and emotionally strong enough to make the readers feel its sharpness that will grip the readers completely. The narrative is sometime dull but at times, it will give the readers goosebumps although overall the dialogues are articulate and layered deeply with the flair of the then time period. This story has got many layers but rarely the author explored those layers, instead all the while the focus remained upon the central character and the her adventures and ordeal with the her city and life. The pacing is slow but steady in which the author opens a wide window to the lost and forgotten era of art and strict Catholicism rules in Florence. The backdrop painted by the author is magnificent and eye catchy with myriad of colors that bring alive the city of Florence vividly. The author captures this fascinating Italian city with its proper historical significance and references in order to make it look properly synced with that era. From the mentality of the folks from that era to the conventional norms in the Churches to the format of art to the life style to the architecture to the spirituality behind the art are all strikingly portrayed with enough details to make the readers visually imagine Florence right before their own eyes. The characters speak their minds but they lack depth in their developments, hence the readers might fail to connect with the characters from this book. The central character, Alessandra, is a brave and free woman irrespective of her time and era and also her desires and her pain evolves her into a mature woman, who learn to embrace her wretched destiny. The love story is so-so, there is nothing much passionate about it. The other characters, especially the female ones could have given more character and back story to make them look justified in their respective demeanor and struggles. In a nutshell, for me this was a captivating enough story that engaged and enlightened me about Renaissance art, love and spirituality on the last day of the year!Verdict:A promising and evocative story of art and religion! Courtesy:A BookChor find!

  • Tracy
    2019-04-15 18:24

    For some reason, I always feel the need to apologize when giving a high rating to a book that is not marvelously written from a technical standpoint--I think I've been privy to too many technical writing conversations. While this book is not a classic of literary style, it was a very good read. Its strengths rest in its emotional honesty at difficult moments. Dunant has an eye for those small defining gestures that convey volumes. As a historical novel, it also covers some interesting territory. The novel takes place in Florence, Italy during the fall of the Medicis and the brief rise of the monk Savonarola, and that place and time (and the role of the Church in it) are central characters. As the monk cracks down on all who run counter to his theology (including the pope), Alessandra, an intelligent, art-loving girl of 16 from a well-to-do merchant's family, rushes into marriage to escape exile to a convent, only to quickly find herself in a situation that is hardly the stuff of women's dreams -- but then, Alessandra had unconventional dreams to begin with. For a woman of the time, relationships within the family substituted for relationships to the entire world. Alessandra's family allows a complex consideration of the messy betrayals and redemptions of love. This novel addresses social class, sexuality, beauty, despair, relationships between men and women, and the relationship between God and the Church. Not bad for a 391-page novel.

  • James
    2019-03-23 16:40

    A few points about this book:If you choose to read it, skip the Prologue. It gives away the last quarter of the book. (I found this very frustrating.)The middle of the book is fine. It's basic historical romance stuff with interesting, smart characters.The end of this book sucks. The main character, and her best friend, make decisions which are both odd and unbelievable.Perhaps you should skip the prologue, read the middle, then when you get to the last few chapters, instead of reading them, skip back to the prologue.

  • David
    2019-04-11 15:51

    With an overpowering deluge of verbs and a merciless amount of description, only surpassed by Tolkien taking 60 pages to walk around a mountain, I found myself continually drifting off. The novel has a meticulous feel to it, with robotic research covered by a light skein of unbelieveable emotion and a pseudo-attempt at mystery that is all gunked up. Like many books published by large corporations its inherent shallowness and malleability would make a great movie.

  • Sammy
    2019-04-11 12:26

    Wow, I really enjoyed this book. I read it in a day. I didn't read it like I read Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix nor did I read it like I plan to read Book 6 on July 16, but I read it in a day it was that good. I'm just going to address my one major problem with the book before I go on to tell you exactly why I liked it so much.Language. I don't know how they spoke in the 1490s, but some of the language seemed very current. Some of the slang used to describe various body parts and bodily functions seemed like something I would hear today on the streets of England. Not America because Americans aren't quite classy enough to say "Shitting." Instead we say things like, "Take a crap." Yeah... real high brow. That was just my one major problem... and it wasn't even that big of one.I loved the characters in this book... well... except the ones you weren't supposed to love, like Savonarola and his followers. I especially loved Erila, and I'm sure you will/do too. They were all very well-developed and real, even for their time. Art lovers and appreciaters will love this book for all the praise it gives to Renaissance art and it's artists. But even if you know diddly squat about art you will still more than likely enjoy the book and understand even it's most obscure art references.Sarah Dunant is an amazing writer, stretching her craft to it's fullest when she must describe not only the art work itself, but more often than not, the colors. To see colors is one thing, but to read them is a completely different.There are several surprising loops and turns that cleverly take place throughout the story, and I don't want to spoil any for you, so I'll stop my review now before I accidently say something revealing. Overall, the book was wonderful. Definetly a must read. Especially if you're like me and you're into this type of historical fiction.P.S. My mom and I are in a debate right now. Maybe you guys can clear it up if you've read the book. Michelangelo was not Alessandra's painter, was he? I'm positive he's not, and I've been trying to prove it to my mom, but she just won't believe me. Even after I've read evidence to her FROM the book. Can you guys help me out?

  • Pauline Montagna
    2019-03-21 17:27

    I sometimes wonder if it is safe for a novelist to attempt to portray cultures other than her own. Sarah Dunant is an English writer who now divides her time between London and Florence (half her luck!) I daresay she feels that, having studied Italian history and lived amongst Italians, she knows Italian culture. However, as an Italian woman myself, I know how Italians relate to the foreigners in their midst and they are not as easily understood as a British ‘Italophile’ might believe. Ms Dunant’s first venture into writing about Italy was a contemporary novel, Mapping the Edge, about an English woman’s fractured adventures on an emotional trip to Florence. However, this is an outsider’s view of Italy. In this book, Ms Dunant has ventured to get inside the Italian psyche. I cannot say she has succeeded.The Birth of Venus is the story of Alessandra Cecchi, the daughter of a rich merchant in fifteenth-century Florence, who is everything a woman should not be, strong-willed, intelligent, talented and ugly. Alessandra’s greatest desire is to be an artist, but as a woman she will never have the means or opportunity to fulfil her ambitions. However, she finds a focus for her creative desires when her father brings home from a trip abroad a painter to decorate the walls of his house. A withdrawn and taciturn man, the unnamed painter is yet drawn to Alessandra and her artistic sensibilities. But then, as Florence comes under threat from French invaders, Alessandra’s parents marry her off for her own protection to Cristoforo, a sophisticated and wealthy older man. The marriage is doomed to failure and has been cynically arranged for his own purposes by her older brother Tomaso because he has always resented her and is jealous of her intelligence and talent. It is here that I baulked. The writer’s portrayal of Alessandra’s marriage and the circumstances surrounding it is where this novel, however much acclaimed it might be, fatally falters.Alessandra has never demonstrated any desire for physical love. All her passions have been focussed on art and her cerebral rather than sensual relationship with the painter. Her unsuccessful marriage might be disappointing, but a disappointment for which she would easily find solace through her art.I also found that in creating this antagonistic relationship between brother and sister, Ms Dunant revealed very little understanding of gender relations in an Italian family. In that time and place, it would have been inconceivable that a boy would be jealous of his sister’s abilities. For a traditional Italian man everything he does and is is, ipso facto, superior to anything a woman can be simply because he is male and she is female. And if a woman should have any abilities, those abilities might be ridiculed by the men in her family, but not resented. Yet, while women may be little regarded as people in their own right, they are still cherished and protected as part of the family.The writer’s portrayal of the relationship between the brother and sister, therefore, is not credible and I felt that the writer had fashioned it simply to create conflict and crisis. I would have found it much more credible, and indeed poignant, if it turned out that Tomaso had acted not out of spite, but rather out of a misplaced fondness for his sister. How much more devastated Alessandra would be if she were to learn that the brother she has always adored, who has always seemed to love her and tolerate her eccentricities, has proven to be totally insensitive to her real feelings.

  • Pauline Ross
    2019-03-28 18:27

    I loved this book. Right up until the very last chapter, I loved it. And then… if I hadn’t been reading on my Kindle, I’d have hurled the thing across the room. Ack. I can’t talk about the reasons for this without giving away spoilers, so if you don’t want to know anything, don’t read the second half of this review.Here’s the premise: fourteen-year-old Alessandra is the oddball of her fifteenth century Florence family. She’s not beautiful, as her sister and two brothers are, she’s not content to follow the prescribed duty for a well-to-do woman and either marry and push out babies, or take herself to a nunnery, she’s been educated and she has artistic talent. Her drawing is a secret, abetted by her slave maid, Erila. She yearns for freedom, but is constrained by the need to remain virginal. But when her father employs a painter from the north to paint the family chapel, Alessandra is drawn to him, despite the prohibitions on both of them.You would think, given all this, that the story would play out as a romance. Girl meets painter, girl is attracted to painter, painter is attracted to girl, insuperable obstacles… yada yada. And to some extent, it does. But the author has ambitions far beyond the simple romance; she wants to write Literature. So what we get instead is historical fiction with the romance pushed firmly down to the bottom of the priorities list.And it almost works. The backdrop of Florence - the city itself, the art, the social culture - is beautifully and lovingly drawn, with an almost painterly richness of colour and texture. The political setting, with the fall of the powerful Medici family and the rise of a charismatic religious leader, is covered pretty well, although Alessandra’s situation means that she misses most of it, and has to depend on other characters to tell her what happened. This leads to long, slightly info-dumpy dialogues. And sometimes the plot contrivances to get her into place for some historic event were creaky, to put it mildly. However, the complications and swirls of political fortunes were well described, and I was never at a loss to understand what was going on.The characters were, in some instances, interesting, but all too often their motivations were unclear or downright unbelievable. Alessandra’s brother, Tomaso, for instance, is a major influence on her life, and not for good. Much of what happens to her is because of his machinations, and it’s hard to see why he chooses to be so evil towards her. Sibling rivalry just isn’t a good reason for some of the things he does. Why does he hate her so much?Both the mother, with her own chequered past, and the slave maid Erila, are actually much more interesting than Alessandra herself, who always seems to be the victim of other people’s needs and manipulations. Her husband, too, is a fascinating character. All of these are people who, unlike Alessandra, made their own decisions, their own lives and remained true to themselves (yes, even the slave, who seems to have had more freedom than her mistress). The painter would have been interesting if we had ever seen enough of him to judge, but he remains a shadowy figure for most of the book. I did, however, like the conceit of not naming him, so that readers can imagine their own favourite northern painter in the role.And then we come to the ending, and here is where everything fell apart for me. However, the rest of the book was very enjoyable, so it merits four stars but with a hazard warning: this is NOT the book to read if you want a satisfying ending.Spoilers ahead…I had some logic issues all the way through (the brother’s hatred for his sister, the mother’s contradictory attitude of educating Alessandra while somehow hoping she will just conform to her allotted role), but the nunnery puts all that in the shade. When her marriage ends, Alessandra is left a wealthy widow. The world is open for her. She could, if she’d chosen to (and if the author had embraced the romantic theme), have gone to Rome to find her painter.But no. Her mother says: “Our city is cruel to widows.” And, with no other justification, carts her off to a nunnery. Not just any nunnery, though; this one is incredibly liberal and relaxed, Alessandra learns (finally!) to paint, is charged with painting the chapel, is happy in her art, living amongst other women. Sisters doing it for themselves. Yay!But wait. When Alessandra was fifteen, and the French army was about to march through Florence and all unattached women were hastily married off or whisked into nunneries, why was this wonderful place never mentioned? Why did her mother allow her to be married to a man three times her age, who was gay and in love with her brother, rather than tell her about this nunnery where she could be herself at last and not shoehorn herself into society’s expected role? What on earth was her mother thinking? And then, the final insult. The painter returns. No longer shy and overwrought, but settled and wealthy. Happy ending ahoy, surely. He’ll carry Alessandra off to Rome, along with her daughter, now fortuitously revealed as the painter’s daughter, and they’ll all live happily ever after. {Cue violins}But no, again. Alessandra decides she’s “made her peace with God”. Well, that might be what she says, but it’s not at all how she behaves. She sleeps with the painter (in the nunnery! Very liberal), and she tattoos herself from neck to crotch with the image of a snake, with the painter’s face on it, tongue extended. And once she’s waved goodbye to her lover and daughter, she’s prostrate with grief. These are not the actions of a woman at peace with God, and comfortable with her decision to give up the secular world. She is so NOT comfortable with it, that she ultimately kills herself. Why? Why stay at all when the nunnery was so constraining, when she had lost everything she ever cared about or wanted? Even her art, a victory so painfully won. And after she kills herself, Erila is planning to go off to England to find the painter. What? Why doesn’t Alessandra do the same? Here’s the big problem with Alessandra’s character. All the way through she is pushed into doing things she doesn’t want, or into not doing the things she does want. She hides her art. She does what she’s told. She conforms. She marries when she’s told to. She has a child because it’s what her husband wants and to cover up her fling with the painter. She goes to the nunnery when her mother suggests it. The only time she does anything for herself is with regard to the painter. Here, at last, she shows some spirit, some sense of independence, of knowing herself.But when at the end she has the opportunity to seize her life and take control, a moment that would have rounded off the book beautifully and brought her arc to a triumphant end - she doesn’t. Far from taking control of her life, she does the exact opposite: turning her back on life altogether, figuratively by rejecting the painter and literally by killing herself.Now I understand that the author was avoiding the happy ever after that would have dumped the book on the romance shelves. I get that. A literary historical story is what she wanted to write, and that’s entirely her choice. I suspect that she wrote the prologue first, and the premise of the nun of many years with a secret past ending her life by suicide is a fascinating one. Trouble is, the story that came after didn’t quite fit with that premise, and in the end it felt like the author struggled to create the character that would convincingly turn into that nun.Alessandra never quite becomes either the suppressed conformist, or the open rebel. She pursues her art, but only in secret (and with the complicity of her mother). She sneaks out at night, but gets frightened and runs home. She wants to talk to the painter, but is petrified of being caught. She meekly marries, is given the freedom to pursue her art but, far from appreciating her luck, she still spits at her brother and husband, and seduces the painter under her husband’s roof. She bravely finds her way into church when women are excluded, yet hasn’t got the gumption to define her her own life when her husband leaves her a widow. She tries to follow the religious tenets of the day, while flouting them outrageously when it suits her. She’s neither one thing nor the other, merely a cipher swept along by a soapy plot.And this is the root of the problem. The story is, at heart, a romance, a soap-opera of a life, the highlight of which is an instant attraction worthy of Mills and Boon. The arranged marriage, the fling with the painter, the child who could be the husband’s or the lover’s… these are almost cliches in the genre. Add in the dramatic return of the painter, who’s been searching for her for fifteen years, and the hot sex, and you have all the conventions of a perfectly standard historical romance. Cut out the prologue and the last chapter or so, and this is exactly what it would be. Thus the most obvious, most fitting ending would be the happy ever after with the painter. It’s not the only one that would work. Alessandra could have been genuinely content in her nunnery, with only God to comfort her. That would have been a valid and interesting choice. She could have been a powerful widow in Florence, using her wealth to do good, and help women or orphans or the church (or simply commissioning art). She could have had a rapprochement with her brother. She could have found herself another husband, one of her own choosing.All of these would have worked with the somewhat contradictory depiction of Alessandra’s character. But to make the eventual ending credible required a different trajectory, a different Alessandra, one who was gradually trodden into the dust, so that rising again or ever taking her life into her own hands was impossible. The best ending for any book is the one that is completely inevitable, given everything that has gone before. And in this case the ending, so far from being inevitable, was not convincing to me in the slightest. I find it impossible to believe that Alessandra, so aware, so intelligent, couldn’t see any other possibilities, especially given the free-spirited example of Erila right under her nose.The theme of Alessandra’s life was freedom: her lack of it as a child, suffocated by the stultifying constraints of her society, and her need for it as an adult. In her life she was in fact offered a number of possible freedoms. The freedom of marriage. The freedom of wealth. The freedom of art. The freedom of love. And the freedom of religious life, the acceptance of God’s will. Alessandra rejects every one of these. And I can’t for the life of me understand why, except that the author had her ending all planned out and none of these fitted.

  • Rebecca
    2019-03-21 16:25

    I made it to page 168. I saw this book at Costco as I was browsing. It seemed interesting enough so I checked it out at the library. I found myself forcing myself to read each page. I did not find the book intriguing or engaging. This story is not something to curl up by the fire with. It is about a girl who loves art, but lives in a time where women cannot openly be artists. Fearing that she will be sent to a nunnery because of the impending French occupation of Florence Italy, she decides to marry a 48 year old man. Then, to her horror, she finds out that her husband is gay and the lover of her brother. Her brother thought that this would be a great arrangement because her husband would allow her to paint and then the husband would not be suspected of being a sodomite in the future. Sound good so far? Not really! Don't even get me started about the wedding night scene. That was waaaaay to explicit for my taste! It was just gross to read about. Had this plot been written differently, I just may have finished it, but alas, it tanked for me. I couldn't risk reading about any more of the nasty serial killer murders or weird love scenes. Maybe the book gets better, but I didn't want to chance it.

  • Carol Clouds ꧁꧂
    2019-04-13 14:37

    I have had this book sitting on my bedside cabinet shelf for quite some time,as I was so disappointed by Blood & Beautythat I didn't feel like starting this title. But this is the Dunant I love & admire. I think she is better with a smaller fictionalised historical rather than a "big canvas" one.Dunant writes so beautifully & I was enthralled by Alessandra's story with it's complex familial & matrimonial relationships. I feel in a platonic way that (view spoiler)[ Cristoforo came to love her even though in the end Alessandra betrayed him, every bit as much as he betrayed her.(hide spoiler)]My favourite character was Alessandra's slave the blunt & farseeing Erila.One thing I didn't understand was the title of this book - unless it refers to (view spoiler)[ Alessandra's daughter?(hide spoiler)] If anyone does know, please tell me in the comments. I'm not proud!In spite of the redundant prologue I'm giving this book 5 stars.

  • Jen
    2019-03-22 15:28

    A friend gave me this book as a birthday gift. Oddly, it was a book she'd never even read (and she's an even more avid reader than I am). She just indicated that she'd thought it looked like a good one, and as it was a "bestseller" she figured it must be. She wasn't wrong, however, for the first few chapters, I constantly wondered why on earth she'd pick out such a book (with such content) for me... After convincing myself I was an adult and it was ok to continue (I still have alot of my mother's book-chosing influence from childhood buzzing around in my brain), I found she was right. Sarah Dunant's The Birth of Venus is an intriguing and educational read- an ingenious and original tale set in a time one wouldn't consider such antics taking place. I am now reading it for the second time, and enjoying it just as much as the first.

  • Lesley
    2019-03-23 13:33

    I read this title for a book club and from the description, I thought it would make for a very good discussion. Unfortunately, the story did not live up to the expectations created by the inside flap.If you like historical fiction, it does have a fairly interesting depiction of Renaissance Florence going for it--and I did learn some things along the way, like I usually do with good historial fiction. However, without giving too much away, the ending and the character development greatly disappointed me. This book also fails to deliver on its promise of mystery and a potentially riveting side plot.That being said, as a quick vacation or casual read, it's not a terrible choice. Unfortunately, I can't recommend it as a good book discussion choice.

  • Jess The Bookworm
    2019-03-30 18:46

    This book is set during Renaissance Florence, and follows the life of Alessandra, the daughter of a wealthy cloth merchant who has dealings with the Medici family. Alessandra is young and innocent when she is married off to a much older man, and although she has more freedom than a woman would have had in those times, her life and marriage doesn't quite turn out as planned. While Florence is going through tumultuous times, with struggles between the artistic and opulent Medici reign, and the fanatical religious fervour gripping the city, Alessandra clings on to her love of art and painting, all the while developing an increasing fascination for the painter hired by her parents. This was a fascinating look into this time period in Florence, and it was a very enjoyable read. I didn't connect with the characters however, as they were viewed rather from a distance and quite superficially through Alessandra's eyes.

  • Kate Quinn
    2019-04-11 15:44

    A lovely debut novel about the Italian Renaissance. An old nun dies and her habit is stripped away to reveal a sensual and scandalous tattoo - but this is only the beginning. Alessandra is a girl of fourteen in fifteenth-century Florence, mesmerized by art and life when she should be preoccupied with marriage and suitors. Her imagination is fired by an intense young painter, but marriage brings her friendship and maturity as she realizes she has been wed as a shield to a kind but homosexual merchant. Left to pursue her own dreams, Alessandra is swept up in the fever of reform as the fanatical Savonarola begins scourging Florence - and in the fever of art as the Renaissance takes hold. The tale of the old nun and the young girl meet in an ending destined to surprise. The book's hero is perhaps a bit weak, but Alessandra's voice sweeps the story along: a girl who recognizes the privilege of being alive at such a dangerous, vibrant, and marvelous period of history.

  • Hannah
    2019-04-01 18:50

    Really 2.5 Stars.First let me start by saying I'm surprised at how much I liked this book, yes even though I only gave it 2.5 stars. The Medieval era and the Renaissance are two of my least favorites times in history, and this book is rooted in the Renaissance. My main issue with the Renaissance is the overwhelming presence of religion in everything (art, daily life, literature, etc.). Of course I understand the importance of that time period and everything produced it in. However I'll spare you the details of the reasons why this isn't my favorite era because GR isn't the place for that. :) But yes, I did enjoy this book to an extent.I liked the main character Alessandra. She did her best to break out of the rigid lifestyle Renaissance women had to live. She is intelligent and well-spoken, though at times still naive. I also liked the painter. His character was undoubtedly strange but provided a nice contrast to everyone else. Other than those two, I didn't care for any of the other characters. Alessandra's husband, at first I really liked him (view spoiler)[despite tricking her into marriage. He's gay.(hide spoiler)]. But then events transpired that just frustrated me. I mean (view spoiler)[who goes and leaves their wife to live with their gay lover, who also happens to be his wife's brother?! It just seemed unrealistic and a terrible thing (hide spoiler)]. Erila and Alessandra's mother were alright but not necessarily amazing or my favorites in any way. And her brothers, well.... Luca is the ultimate bandwagoner - not an original bone in his body, and Tomaso is just evil. Oh! And her sister, flighty.At first, I really liked that Alessandra wasn't concerned with sex/relationships/marriage like her sister and mother. (view spoiler)[But that feeling was quickly dashed when she started having feelings for the painter, and of course having sex with him. Sigh. I look forward to the day when I can read a book about a woman who doesn't fall in love. Just one (to be fair I have read books like that but they are few and far between). (hide spoiler)]The writing is fine, descriptive but not too flowery. It reads quick and held my attention most of the time while I read it. The reason it only gets 2.5 stars is because I felt that there were certain things that happened that just seemed ridiculous (not the historical events, but events that happened within Alessandra's life). Also, I felt that nothing really happened. Of course things did happen but I wasn't impressed. I can't quite put my finger on it but I was left, at the end of the book, frustrated but also going eh. There's more meat to this story than, say, All the Light We Cannot See which I gave 2 stars but there is something lacking here too.Cautiously recommend it. If you start reading and don't like it, stop. It's not worth it.

  • Lori
    2019-04-16 19:48

    I'm finding it difficult to select a rating for this book. It begins with a bang (5 stars for interest, mystery, intrigue), slows to a disconnected simmer (2 stars) which cools to lukewarm (1 star). The story does pick up (2-3 stars) but then spirals into a disappointing ending that, to me, seems inconsistent with the character. (1 star).

  • Tempo de Ler
    2019-04-11 16:51

    Na bella Italia Renascentista, em Florença, a arte - inspiração de Deus - está por toda a parte; na música, nos edifícios, nas peças consumadas para os adornar e até mesmo nos diálogos. A beleza do corpo era um tema de conversa tão habitual e comum como a própria beleza da arte… Mas nem toda a arte do mundo será suficiente para salvar uma cidade quando a estrada que a conduz à redenção está atravancada de fanatismo, ignorância e intolerância religiosa.Florença estava a virar-se contra si mesma, batalhando conta o pecado, e ninguém está seguro quando se destrói a vontade destruindo corpos. «Florença é divina mas Deus é cruel para Florença (…)»A influência dos Médicis desvanece-se à medida que o fanatismo se insurge por detrás do púlpito da igreja. O possível avanço do exército invasor de Carlos VIII paira como uma nuvem negra de fatalismo. Deus e o Diabo andavam à luta nas ruas da cidade. E no meio de tudo isto, temos Alessandra…O Nascimento de Vénus começa de forma muito intrigante. O fim de vida de Alessandra leva o leitor a desenvolver de imediato uma curiosidade imensa sobre esta personagem tão preciosamente caracterizada ao longo do livro.Sarah Dunant fez um trabalho fantástico na transmissão dos conceitos e mentalidade da época - a forma como nos mostra que, onde algumas pessoas veem beleza sincera, outras poderão ver algo bem mais perverso…Na Florença do século XV a que Dunant nos leva, Deus está em tudo o que é dito ou até mesmo pensado - conforme era visto como uma entidade vil, irada e punidora ou benevolente e compreensiva. É verdade que o pecado assume gravidades conforme quem o contempla. A história pessoal de Alessandra, influenciada pela História que se escreve em tempo real ao seu redor, é intrincada e complexa, misturando amor e traição em igual medida. A sua paixão impossível pela pintura nasceu bem cedo acompanhando-a no dia-a-dia até que ela cresce, os tempos mudam e é necessário procurar uma solução para a tensão vivida no momento: casar, mesmo que isso signifique abandonar tudo o que conhece.O pretendente, um homem sério mas muito mais velho do que Alessandra, torna-se a solução mais sensata para o futuro dela…só que Cristoforo não foi completamente honesto: o seu coração já foi arrebatado.Adorei acompanhar Alessandra numa viagem tão envolvente e apaixonante como esta. É notável como a autora a faz transparecer tão solitária quando está na verdade rodeada por tantas pessoas. Como a vincula tão ferozmente à sua paixão pela pintura e como a moldou tão realisticamente com fraquezas e os ditos «defeitos» de personalidade.Depois do sucesso que foram para mim as leituras de Corações Sagrados e O Nascimento de Vénus vou definitivamente guardar interesse em continuar a ler trabalhos de Sarah Dunant.

  • Elphaba J
    2019-04-02 20:48

    (Este livro era 2 estrelas nas primeiras páginas e depois mudou para 4... surpreendente?) O Nascimento de Vénus transporta, com subtileza, o leitor para a época renascentista, para o momento exacto em que a bela Florença unia a arte à religião como se o todo de ambos fosse a única forma de honrar devidamente o Senhor.Através de uma abastada, conservadora e, ainda assim, modesta família conhecemos Alessandra. Uma protagonista que da sua meninice à maturidade deslumbra pela sua inteligência brilhante, atendendo às limitações impostas à mulher. Conhecemos a sua amizade pura com Erila, uma rara serva negra, o seu crescimento precoce, preenchido por uma sede imensa de saber, e a sua paixão avassaladora pela arte que, como quase todas as paixões em tempos castos, se revela proibida, perigosa até e, mais ainda, com a chegada de um misterioso e jovem pintor incumbido de retractar a família para a eternidade e dar luz, vida, ao anseio de toda a família pintando a tão desejada capela no palazzo Cecchi.Só pela intensidade das suas personagens esta é uma narrativa preciosa, por vezes tocante, e outras tantas vezes inspiradora. Mas, como tudo nesta época de fé e beleza, são muitos os conceitos que chegarão ao leitor seduzindo-o para outros tempos sendo a religião, fundamentalmente, o centro de todo o enredo que cresce e ganha contornos avassaladores com as alterações que vai sofrendo enquanto acompanhamos o crescimento dos intervenientes.Da adoração benigna à devoção extrema, são vários os momentos em que a crença e a sua influência muda o rumo natural da história modificando homens, mortificando mulheres, sem que ninguém esteja a salvo, principalmente, a excelência do artista que se prevê perder a cor. Também a sexualidade, e as suas variantes, são questões de debate neste texto que de forma subtil, mas evidente, aborda sem tabus controversas relações, familiares e afectivas, que se vão desenvolvendo e adensando o mistério em torno da vida de Alessandra e do seu fim, anunciado na sinopse. Opinião completa:

  • Stephanie
    2019-03-23 13:24

    This is a book that starts with an ending: the death of an elderly nun in a 15th century Italian convent. A mystery is sparked when it is discovered that the nun’s tumor appears to have been faked and she has an evocative tattoo entwining her torso where it has been hidden by her habit. From there the story vaults to the beginning - to when this mysterious nun was a 14 year old Florentine named Alessandra. Alessandra is presented as the youngest daughter of a rich cloth merchant. She is clever, and inquiring, chafing at her incredibly sheltered existence. Most of all she loves art and has tried, with no instruction except books, learn to create it. The story is told from her perspective and she chooses to start her story on the night her father brought home a painter to live with them and paint their family chapel. It is that night, she believes, that shaped the rest to come.The city of Florence is also an important character in the book. On first meeting the City is at its zenith ready to topple over the edge into the abyss. Art and beauty are everything and the Medicis rule the city. The middle part of the book lays out Florence’s downfall first through a “friendly” occupation by the French and then a coup by an ultra-conservative cleric who locks down the city and decrees art to be ungodly. All this unrest is viewed through the very personal story of Alessandra. She is a wonderful storyteller and while she is easy to like, she does not spare us from her fits of childish moodiness and brazen naiveté. It is an extremely engaging tale she tells, that winds its way through a gripping series of events to finally bring us to the mysterious and, for me, heartbreaking death of a nun. This was great historical fiction. I have already picked up and am reading another book by Sarah Dunant as I really enjoyed this one.

  • Kelly
    2019-04-07 15:29

    Ideas expressed/message/plot: Alessandra is an intelligent & talented young woman living in Florence during the Renaissance. She doesn't have too many options though - get married or join a convent. While she must to conform to the rules of society, she figures out a way to succumb to her own passion as well.The book's prologue is truly one of the best openings to a story that I've ever read. After that, I found myself "slowed down," by the references to artists and artwork - sadly a testament to my own deficiency of knowledge in this area (why, oh why didn't I take Art History in College?). As the story moved along, I couldn't help being impressed by the Dunant's storytelling. I loved the evolving relationship between Alessandra and the painter. I felt a learned a lot about Renaissance Italy - it's a time period that was always skipped over in school. It wasn't really light reading - you definitely need to pay attention to details to fully absorb this book.

  • Wordsmith
    2019-03-30 16:37

    Sarah Dunant's gem of a book, "The Birth Of Venus," is a brilliant period piece written painted on the page with all the fire of oils then finished off with a glow emanating from the veneer that comes after being highly glazed. She masters the big four: Story— Imagery—Elegance—Intelligence, in such a "readable" way, I flew through it (or it, through me) and I finished it, cover to cover, in under two hours, whilst in a surreal haze. Okay. To be honest, the haze was probably from the real fever I had "caught" and not solely the haze from being swept into another world. Still...What another gorgeous feast for the senses from Dunant. I have to put this down. Now. In words. My thoughts and my feelings, while still fresh with all this meaning.This feeling. Don't waste the echoes and those far-away feelings of distance you get while in a state of fiery brain-heated yet torpid, languid, dare I say, blissful confusion, while viewing bad TV, all the while, whining "Wahhh," to your mother or your significant other or heaven forbid, simply sit staring into your Dasani bottled up water. Oh no, that just won't do. Not when you can go (be taken) all other-worldly. Mind swoon yourself (by the grace of another) back to the 1400's. Dunant's strokes are vibrant, so ardent and inventive, known by trademark authentic; her marriage of story to prose so light it's like silver sheen, comparable to air, or a gossamer trail, she hits every possible note, with every masterful stroke. With consummate skill, she sets forth this gilded tale with the upmost finesse and flair. She blends her palette well, blurring word and color seamlessly and simultaneously. Now, imagine all that rolled into one "now" during your reading. She brings the words, which writhe alive, bright, right off the page, as if laid down with one of those "Silver Brush" sables, highly-praised, top-of-the-line, red sables (that are hand selected from marten tails) this book is the equivalent of an excellent rendering known as Chiaroscuro (there's no adumbration here) as if this WERE a painting, rather than black marks on white paper. Sometimes, we readers DO get lucky, finding the edges really do blur, and no not a fever thing at all. That's unfair to Ms. Dunant. Simply put, this book comes alive, awash with colors, verdigris, lapis lazlulis, vermillion, the darkest of indigo, pomegranate, even the blood is aflame, on fire, all a rage with pure color. (Ok, I was Art Major/Art History Minor. Crazy what's still there for recall.)In the mid—1400's Lorenzo de' Medici of Florence bought himself the services of one Alessandro di Mariano di Vanni Filipepi, who we recognize today as Sandro Botticelli, you know, "Adoration of The Magi." Botticelli had the gift, he's the guy who envisioned, painted and glorified Venus de' Milo the über-goddess, rising/standing so demurely, even while being delectable and desirous, so pure from her place of exultation. Immortality on a half shell. As any Art Historian worth a grain of salt already knows, Lorenzo was not the first patron d' arts living during this gilded age of Platonic Ideals, a time when real people lived real lives while seeking real answers to life's eternal questions regarding God, Life, Death, Beauty, Truth, Reason and Enlightenment. They were seeking Painted Reverence and Beauty, so they went out, bought then brought home, their own personal Divined Artisans. This was how it was in their time on earth named now as The Renaissance, it's just the way life was back in Florence circa mid-1400. Before Lorenzo ever became a thought, or a thought being conceived into being, his grandfather Cosimo de' Medici the Elder, who (most likely) was the first Medici art patron, had purchased the services of an artist for himself Cosimo, went top drawer, top of the line and secured a commission with the one and only, master craftsman of his time, Donato di Niccolò di Betto Bardi, better known to all as Donatello. He was a sculptor, large bronzes, bas reliefs, pagan themes...Madonna and Child...his famous homo-erotic nude in the round bronze of David. Donatello was not without his detractors, although he lived a long life, dying in Florence at eighty. He is buried in the Basilca of San Lorenza alongside his patron, Cosimo de' Medici the Elder. We'll return to Botticelli later (who certainly was just as deserving as Donatello, as far as accolades go) as he is relevant to the story, "The Birth of Venus."As all the fashionable Florencian's knew, it was all about "Keeping Up With The de' Medici's." If, that is, you were of noble birth, had plenty of money, a chapel alluring enough to provide years of study, time for all that hard work behind the scenes: the layout, gridwork, preliminary pre-sketches, setting up the scaffolding; all this even before the first brushstrokes could be laid down on the final fresco. To the painter in need of a patron and the patrons purchasing of said painter, trust came down to the painters freedom to paint said chapel along with the altar peices, and whatever God saw fit to flow through those fingers, which could only be explained as being touched by God-Giving Divinity. Still, most were considered, at best, tradesmen, or in the case of the Checchi family, more simply put as merely "The Painter." Paolo Checchi, is a merchant, world renowned (in 1440!) for his original fabrics and textiles. They were top-quality, colorful, rich and flamboyant, therefore highly coveted, by not only Italians, but anywhere a ship could be put to port. He is rising ever higher in his social status, when we first open the pages of "The Birth of Venus." Paolo has just returned from the North Country, where all is gray and the cold has such a chill that it seeps into ones very soul, washing all but the barest hint of color away. (Along with digits, if one is not careful.) According to "The Painter." (Dunant can also be witty, yes, even when writing tales of horror as vibrant as she does fabric, you can really feel it. Retaining her fluid, elegant voice, her words, impressions, the images of evil literally float off the page. Although, this is history, we are at least, eased into the torture. The poverty of the lower classes, sicknesses and deaths were practically daily events, way back then in history.) Paolo is coming home to his family, bringing with him, The Painter. All the 'good' families have one. His wife, we discover, is notably more noble, on the hierarchy scale of how Highborn one can be, she having attained that height higher than her Good Husband Paolo could ever hope to aspire to. Paolo, is, after all, a merchant, a purveyor of goods, top quality and coveted to be sure, though useless for that highest scale of born to be noble. She's in an all together higher league that he will never be nor ever reach. Still, it has all the appearance of a happy and prosperous union. They have been blessed with two sons, Lucas and Tomas. Not much of a blessing. You'll see. They also have two daughters, Plautillo and Alessandra. Night and day, these two. Now, as this family is on the rise, they too, have their own personal artisan, "The Painter." Changes are coming, not only to Florence and The Holy Church but to the Checchi family as well. Alessandra is the young heroine of our story. Her road is not easy. When is it ever, in most times, when blessed/cursed with an innate curiosity of mind combined with a superior intellect? Fuse this with an extraordinary artistic talent, which inthose times, even for the Highborn, could be called out as heresy. No, poor Alessandra was staring at fates fangs the moment her body conspired against her, even as this kind of conspiracy is altogether inevitable. At fourteen she became woman. Childhood and the safety net it provides in the dangerous times that are sensed as inevitably drawing ever near, makes the venom dig in a little a deeper. This all coincides with the advent of the fanatical Salvorono, a monk from nowhere, (in the context of the story) who took to preaching his sermons of hellfire and damnation to the very devout Florencian's, which left them reeling, confused and more than a little afraid. Were his sermons, which he claimed as being God inspired, and the issues he raised, even possible things? They, the people, the masses, so conflicted, began to fear his promises of their collective journey to the very pits of hell, as too close to real. His power base grew, not only in numbers, but in the degree of his followers beliefs. They would grow to be as fanatical as the fanatic. His sermons grew harsher, he called the Florencian's out. For even the most flimsy infringements, he kept coming back with, as yet again, yes, this too, is nothing less than a most vile of sin. He banned women from all Church Services and put them on strict city-wide curfew. Then his rhetoric turned worse, by degrees, exponitially worsening as he grew more powerful. His pitch grew violent when geared towards hells consignment for those known (or slandered, just, unjust, these were, after all, trivial semantics) as being the perverted sodomites, whores, soothsayers and unbelievers, or gasp! Of COURSE it worsens, as things tend to do, when fanatics have leave to breed fear unchecked! The ARTISANS! Those God gifted/divined/inspired ones, or at least as they were venerated before the monks arrival, not all that long ago. Mind you, in the age of The Renaissance, most painters painting Masterpieces believed it to be a CALLING, therefore they did find inspiration from the Divine when they put a brush to hand. Minds break, along with hearts, upon finding they are now the evil creatures, satans spawn. Patrons, people, priests and preachers alike all whispering, "Who dared? How DID they? How COULD we? Who were THEY to think of re-creating images/figures/eyes—windows upon the souls to those of The Holy Trinity, The Mother Mary, The Christ Child? Jesus himself?" What blasmephy! The arrogance! Here we go now...The days of REASON, of ENLIGHTENMENT—were OVER. I'm not big on spoilers. Never give them. Still, I was planning on going a little deeper into the storyline. Alessandra's kinda-sorta being duped into a catastrophic marriage. Those dangerous times called for drastic measures. And it was not a thing possible, under that sun, or any other, when tingly sparks ignite between the useless talent of the Art—Worshipping, Brand—New Woman, Alessandra and The Painter, this flame must be doused, before igniting into a raging fire. The Painter is still living in quarters no better than a stable, still taking his meals all alone, all the while, creating works recognized by some as genius, which they are. Of course, the frustrated young budding artist girl is giddy, to have a true master, such as he, this closer than close, to her. Alas, she's now on permanent being slaved-watched status. Sure, she's snuck down the steps in the dark when the house is abed, just so she can sneak a peek at his secret technique, since he only paints in the dead of night. How else is a girl going to learn? Nope, the girl must be right and proper married. With this, I'll leave you to discover the fate of young Alessandra.Botticelli fell under the sway of the fanatical, violent, Salvorono. In doing so, he denounced and burned many of his own masterpieces himself. Rumors still abound to this day, regarding his sexual orientation. There is evidence he was turned in as a sodomite, but was released, untortured. So here, I can bring up an important point. On two major—one minor parts of the storyline, it is acknowledged by Dunant, obviously, she has taken full advantage of creative-literary license. As The Painter didn't get off quite that lucky. Yep, a certain someone had it in for him too. Although he was able to continue painting many masterpieces in the years to come. Hmmm, just who was this Painter? If you know anything about Italian History, or the Renaissance, or possibly some history regarding the affairs of the Catholic Church or The Vatican, you may know Salvorono WAS in fact FINALLY publically called out by Pope Alexander VI and after his final fiasco, a disastrous public humiliation of what would of been the first trial by fire in Florence in over four hundred years, Salvorono, along with two other monks were duly arrested and went to meet their destiny. I must admit here, there are, still, two schools of thought on the piety of Salvorono. I know what I think about those who torture a thing born, what that draws breath, for ANY reason under Gods sun, or even in the infinite of the universe. I have no use for them. Ohhh, my fevers rising. "Tylenol please!"FIVE STARS AND A FAVORITEI know it needs some cleaning up. I'll come back and do later. Cross my fingers! Uncrossing—It took awhile! Finally, is all I say. : )

  • J8J8
    2019-03-23 14:35

    Antes de mais, gostaria de começar com um agradecimento a Elphaba, pois foi graças a um passatempo no seu blog que tive a oportunidade de ler este livro de que gostei bastante e que já o andava a "namorar" há algum tempo assim sendo: Muito Obrigada!É sempre (ou quase sempre) muito agradável estrearmo-nos em obras cujos autores que ainda não tivemos oportunidade de ler ou que ainda não conhecíamos e este foi um desses casos. Fui surpreendida por uma história muito interessante cuja ação se desenrola em Itália, mais concretamente em Florença no século XV, cujas personagens enriqueceram a história com os seus medos, as suas opiniões e as suas perspetivas sobre a época muito conturbada que foi esse tempo. Gostei bastante a forma como a autora interlaçou os fatos históricos com as personagens por si criadas e as personagens reais e como conseguiu explorar com bastante sucesso todas estas vertentes.Para além dos fatos históricos inseridos na história duma maneira tão sublime as personagens como já disse, vieram enriquecer todo o contexto, observando o seu crescimento e a sua capacidade de adaptação às situações mais críticas e, por vezes, adversas. As minhas personagens favoritas foram por ordem decrescente: Erila, Alessandra, mãe de Alessandra e um pouco o Cristoforo que, apesar de certas passagens o considero como uma personagem interessante.Assim, foi com um interesse crescente e uma curiosidade espicaçada por parte de Sarah Dunant - o que às vezes acabava por ser irritante - e por vezes uma ou outra bofetada por parte da mesma que terminei o livro em apenas alguns dias e com uma sensação de nostalgia no fim.Como já devem ter reparado, adorei o livro e recomendo-o a toda a gente, fazendo apenas um pequeno alerta, Sarah Dunant tem um tipo de escrita um pouco crua e, em certas ocasiões, dura acabando por fazer o leitor sentir-se extamente no meio da ação de tal forma que é envolvente a história e o seu estilo de escrita.4,5 estrelas

  • Bandit
    2019-03-21 13:44

    Renaissance Italy or specifically Medici's Florence is a fascinating historical era, although one probably safest experienced as an armchair explorer. Majority of the book takes place during the particularly turbulent 1494/1495, years of Savanarola, Night Police and its accompanying fervent madness, spectacular time rendered vividly, claustrophobically and stunningly by the author. Her other clever choice is the main protagonist, a woman who dared and succeeded against all odds to live a life on her own terms during the time when such a thing was virtually unheard of. Not that the society has advanced all that far in certain respects of equality, but still its come a long way since centuries ago when options were incredibly limited, Alessandra Cecchi, a precocious, outspoken, opinionated well beyond her gender station and her years, a young woman, whose main passion is art, goes after her freedom in the most conventionally unconventional ways. It's an incredible journey set during an incredible time and populated with terrific, charismatic, interesting characters (Florence itself being one of them) based on both historical facts and imagination. Having never read the author before, I was weary of the book turning out to be a corseted chicklit or something that treats history as a suggestion, but this has exceeded all expectations, turning out to be not only an awesome, utterly engaging story, but a stunning window into a bygone epoch as well. Great read. Highly recommended.

  • Lori
    2019-04-12 13:37

    To be honest, I could have wished for a happier ending for Alessandra Cecchi but overall I really enjoyed this very unique historical. After reading the prologue, my curiosity was piqued and I knew at that point I would be reading this book through to the end. Also, very early on in the story, I realized that the City of Florence was just as much a main character as Alessandra, in fact they share the spotlight. Dunant recreates fifteenth century Florence with vibrant descriptions of the sights, sounds and colors of Alessandra's world. I take with me a better understanding of the religious and political climate that Florence experienced during the fall of the Medicis and the rise of the monk Savonarola. Art is deliciously sprinkled throughout. Also, not for the fainthearted, are chilling scenes of violence that played out on the streets of Florence as the struggle for the power and control of the city raged on. Alessandra is quite young, still just fourteen years of age, when the story begins. Needless to say, she becomes a woman before the end of this story. She hungers for art and is a budding artist in her own right as her journey begins but family and social obligations present many obstacles for her. Her story is engaging and she is different from other heroines I have read about in historical fiction. A very worthwhile read!

  • Dawn McGowan
    2019-03-23 13:43

    Dunant does a wonderful job blending historical events in with her fictional character, the blossoming young woman, Alessandra Cecchi. Alessandra is the daughter of a cloth merchant who endures, above all, corrupt religious leaders and an interesting marriage. Through Dunant's vivid descriptions of the time period , readers are transported to late 15th century Florence. The details given to the reader displayed Dunant's erudition and thorough knowledge of that time period. During the course of the novel,however, Alessandra somehow fell flat for me. To my surprise and dismay, I didn't find myself longing to know what happened to her. It's not that I didn't care. I just didn't REALLY care. Interestingly enough, I was more engaged with her servant,Erila, whom I wanted to know more about her background and life. I eagerly waited for Dunant to divulge any information that would lead me to any clues about Erila, sadly, I only received a few. Overall, an enjoyable read:)

  • Kelly
    2019-04-20 15:46

    This book was a little bit chick-y, but I liked it anyway. It takes place in Renaissance Italy and it is fully aware that it cannot capture the beauty that it seeks to in any way, shape, or form. It is content merely to explore a few threads. Which bothered me on some level since I wanted more of the overwhelming, in your face, splashy sense of the era if I was going to read about it. But since I usually like quiet, intimate novels, it didn't bother me that much. It isn't especially deep, and the conclusions it reaches are sweet, but not groundbreaking. This is a good, relaxing read with some lovely imagery and a fairly well told story. It is pretty much the definition of middle brow fiction, but it's an enjoyable example of it.

  • Sarah(sarahandherbookshelves)
    2019-03-31 13:26

    3.5 StarsI really enjoy historical fiction and have never read a book about Florence or this era. So I decided to give this ago. I mostly did enjoy this book and I liked the main character Alessendra. I felt for her in many parts of this book. I liked the story line, and the books plot moved in a good way.What I didn't really enjoy about this book was everything about the art. Art really was a main topic in the book, and it did help with the story. At times I just got really bored reading all the descriptions of the art and would just skim over those parts.(I think I'm to used to my Tudor HF!)

  • Rio (Lynne)
    2019-03-24 12:33

    I made it 65 pages in, but I couldn't bring myself to finish. Another book I wanted to love! What a shame. Artist Domenico Ghirlandaio's was one of the great artists during the Italian Renaissance. The author weaves a story between Domenico and Alessandra Cecchi. Unfortunately, Alessandra's parents arrange a marriage for her to a much older man. Why did I lose interest when this story should have been so interesting? The author did that thing I hate. Pages and pages of unimportant details and descriptions. I prefer more story. I really wish I could find a great Italian book about historical figures that is as interesting as their lives actually were, so far no luck.

  • Sara Giacalone
    2019-04-08 15:27

    I really enjoyed this book and the discussion of art, religion and philosophy - but I can understand why some readers would think it is a bit dry. It's a great historical novel centered in Florence in the late 15th century, when Savonarola was on his rampage against ostentation and sin(predating the later reformation by quite a bit). The novel was full of twists and surprises, and came to a satisfactory conclusion that felt real. It was a nice change from much of the "fluffier" historical fiction published currently (although I admit I don't read much or it). I highly recommend it!