The Birth of Venus - Sarah Dunant

‘When he finally speaks he has stopped shaking, but the effort has cost him. ‘I paint in God’s service,’ he says, with the air of a novitiate delivering a litany he has been taught but not fully understood. ‘And it is forbidden for me to talk with women.’


Alessandra Cecci is not quite fifteen when her father, a prosperous cloth merchant, brings a young painter back from northern Europe to decorate the walls of the family chapel in their Florentine palazzo. Alessandra is intoxicated by the painter’s abilities. As Medici Florence is threatened by the hellfire of the monk Savonarola, the painter and his dazzling art exert an ever more powerful and erotic pull.


The reason I have read this book is because I was looking to join a book club, so I went to my local Waterstones, as I didn’t realise that they themselves have a book club and I had just over a week before the next meeting and the book of discussion was The Birth Of Venus. So I quickly grabbed it - obviously paid for it – and emailed the lady who was in charge of the book club to advise that I will be coming along and I would have read the book ready for the meeting.... I never received an email back from her so I didn’t go in the end... plus I didn’t read it by the date of the meeting but that it is besides the point. So I am hurt, vulnerable and... bookclubless... but I still read it anyway. So that is why this book has gotten into my possession, as this isn’t normally a book that I would immediately pick up to read when looking for something new to read.


To be honest, I thought this would be really boring and factual... but I was wrong – I don’t like saying that at all. This book was a little bit difficult to get into to begin with, but once a couple of chapters had been read that was it; it had me hooked. I have even been reading it in between phone calls at work, that’s how obsessed I have been.


Alessandra is a very relatable character; anyone will be able to find some sort of aspect of her personality that they could see in themselves. This makes her adventures and troubles more than real. Maybe even a little bit too real, especially towards the end.


Durant has created this novel to enfold right before your very eyes; tagging us along to Alessandra’s adventures in the world of Renaissance Florence.