(Review) The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant
Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks.
Genre: Fiction, artist, Renaissance, Italy.
Rating: 2 stars for okay.
Alessandra Cecchi is age fourteen. She is the precocious young daughter of a family in Florence, Italy. Her older sister marries and has a child. Alessandra has a brother named Tomaso. Alessandra and Tomaso's conflicts continue throughout the story and is one of the strong elements of conflict. Their father brings an eccentric Flemish painter to their home to paint the altar frescoes. As soon as Alessandra is considered marriageable, she is married to an older man. Their "arrangement" gives Alessandra more freedom than most married women are given.
The book begins with the end of a woman's life, then picks up with the story of Alessandra. The ending is a conclusion of the prologue.
I found The Birth of Venus to be "over-the-top," with a far-fetched story and vulgar body descriptions.
I can understand having a character who is an intelligent, gifted, beautiful, and head-strong girl becoming betrothed and marrying an older man. I can understand the circumstances of their "arrangement." I do feel her relaxed marriage was given too much freedom in the story, considering the society and culture of this period. Her husband may have had freedom, but I do not believe it is plausible that Alessandra would have had the same privilege.
Alessandra's brother Tomaso and their conflict left me with more questions and annoyance. Was he jealous? Did he have a mental health problem? What caused his anger? He was still able to be who is was, so what was his problem....to the extent of cruelty?
I felt sorrow for Alessandra. I felt sorrow for her relationships with both her family and lover.
I did not care for the way she immortalized her body. It's an interesting concept, but I still did not care for it.
There are generalized statements made about men being who who they are and women being who they are, specifically in reference to sexual conduct.
There are vulgar remarks in regard to sexual practices and body parts.
The Birth of Venus is a creative story, it is a quick read, but I did not feel it was an exceptional story.