Interesting historical fiction. After reading the first chapter I was full of questions I wanted answered. I enjoyed Dunant's writing well enough that I would like to try another one of her books. According to the jacket she has written a few mysteries.
The story takes place during the late 1400's in Florence, Italy when the Medici family is basically in control of the city. When Leonardo da Medici dies, a Catholic Dominican friar, Savonarola, becomes the powerful force in Florence. The protagonist, Alessandra, is caught between the Medici state with its love of luxury, learning, and dazzling art and the hellfire preaching and increasing violence of Savonarola's suppression.
I made note of this passage that demonstrates the conundrum going on in Alessanda's thinking.
When I was a child it had all seemed so simple. There had been one God, who, though He had a voice like thunder when angry, also had enough love to keep me warm at night when I spoke to Him directly. And the more I learned and the more complex and extraordinary the world became, the deeper His capacity to accept my knowledge and rejoice with me. Because whatever man's acheivement it came first and foremost from Him. This no longer seemed true. Now man's greatest achievements seemed to be in direct opposition to God, or this God. This God was so obsessed with the Devil the He seemed to have no time for beauty or wonder, and all of our knowledge and art was condemmed as just another place for evil to hide. So now I no longer knew which God was the true one, only which was louder.
Played against this backdrop, the story centers on Alessandra who is starting to fall in love with a young artist but who is suddenly given in marriage to a man 30-years her senior.
A worthwhile read: entertaining, nicely written, intriguing and informative. I must have missed something though, because I never figured out why it was titled The Birth of Venus.