The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant

The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant actually threw me for a loop. It took me a lot longer to get through than other books I’ve read recently. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started reading it. The back cover talks of art and Florence, Italy (my favorite!), and the Medicis. I am a sucker for historical fiction.

birth of venus

Initial Thoughts

I thought for a moment that The Birth of Venus was going to turn into some sort of murder mystery! There were so many different “behind the scenes” conflicts happening. People kept showing up dead at churches and holy grounds. There was dissent in the Catholic church between the pope and a local vicar. Then, there’s also conflict with a king traipsing through Florence. I’m sure this was common to the time, but there was a lot going on for the purpose of a storyline.

The book itself follows the story of Alessandra, a daughter of an affluent merchant in Florence. She has two brothers who he fights with relentlessly, and a sister who seemingly annoys her for her beauty and perfection. As the king is coming to Florence, compromising the safety of unmarried virgins, Alessandra is married off to an older affluent bachelor. I don’t want to share too much about the relationship, but it is lovely and intellectual for them both.

Would I recommend?

I told my mom a bit about this book as I was reading it, and she said it sounded awful. Told my dad a little bit, and his face said the same thing. I enjoyed reading this, but it’s likely one I can give up and won’t return to later. It was lovely reading a story that allowed me to walk through the streets of the Florence of the past. I enjoyed the stories of the Medicis.

However, this book was arduous. With so many different levels of conflict and points of contention, it was difficult to enjoy where the story was going. Chapters were excessively detailed, which paints a picture (pun intended), but makes it heavy to follow.

If you’re a fan of art and historical fiction, The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant is a great read…once. Escape America and walk through the streets of Florence.

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