Sunday, March 7, 2010

review :: The Birth of Venus

Sarah Dunant

The Birth of Venus takes place in 15th-century Florence and begins just at the fall of the Medici reign of power. This novel is not magnificently-written and there are some character flaws. I mostly enjoyed the story because of the time period and the profusion of art history.

The book has nothing to do with the Botticelli painting for which it is named--although it is mentioned in the story. Rather, it is metaphorical as the story follows the coming-of-age of a14-year-old Alessandra Cecchi during a time of great unrest and transformation in the lavish city.

I appreciated the blending of historical characters and event with the fictional characters and plot created by Dunant. The appearances of such recognizable people as Lorenzo de Medici,  Sandro Botticelli, and Michelangelo are subtle and appropriate.

There are several surprise turning points throughout that keep the plot unpredictable and it's not overwhelmingly feministic--which I was wary of once I started getting to know Alessandra's character. Overall, this was a satisfying read, and I would recommend it for people who are interested in the time period and enjoy art history.

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