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book review: "The Birth of Venus"...

Sunday, October 9, 2016
...by Susan Dunant, published in 2003. Picked randomly off the shelf at the library. And brought home as the flyleaf described the story as taking place in fifteenth century Florence, when it was still an independent city-state. Plus it had a beautiful illustration on the cover of a female head looking like the Botticelli 'Venus Rising from the Sea'. Sorry I did not make notes about the source of the art.

This young woman, actually still a child of fourteen, has a gift for drawing, wants to paint, but is discouraged as it is not an acceptable endeavor for women from wealthy families. Too much like 'work', when they are supposed to be living lives of leisure, or prayerful dedication. She encounters a strange young artist, a foreigner who her father has brought into their home to paint frescoes on a recently completed chapel. You can envision sparks flying. But they are circumspect. So no actual intrigue or misbehavior.

Alessandra is married off to a much older prosperous man who, it is hoped will keep her safe in a time of political unrest. The people are greatly swayed by a local bishop who vehemently preaches things that are not supported by the Vatican. Young men in gangs, supported and encouraged by this bishop roam the streets, inflicting instantaneous punishment and cruelty to those who oppose the local preachings. Possibly a very real depiction of life in that era, with no one who has the wherewithal to stop people who take the law into their own hands.

You will have to read the book to learn more, and I not one to spoil a good story... will only tell you that the intriguing ending of the book is in the first chapter. Which makes you read the whole thing in an effort to understand how it all comes together.

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