The Birth of Venus

Written by Sarah Dunant



The way this book started turned my stomach.  Literally.  I read ten pages and then couldn’t pick it back up for a day because thinking about the way it started made me sick to my stomach.

That was a sign of the vibrant, visual writing that was to come (and it didn’t gross me out again).

I usually don’t love books set in this time period because the age was so hard on women.  I can’t seem to reconcile the romanticism of the period with the reality, and makes me very uncomfortable when I read about it.  But this book was different.  It was extremely readable, and not remotely depressing.  If anything, it was exultant.  There were many times where I didn’t want to put it down.

Dunant tells the story of an interesting woman who happens to live in Florence in the late 1400’s, and not just the story of a woman who lives in Florence.  This is a time of immense turmoil as well as a time of inspirational artistry.  Her main character, Alessandra, acts in ways that are consistent with the era, but she is a likeable and impressive woman.  I wanted to know her.  I was right there with her when she made her decisions and took actions, even when I knew they were foolish or dangerous.  It was like reading about your best friend.

This was a remarkable book.  It took me on a journey to a different world, and I thoroughly enjoyed the journey.