December 2016
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The Birth of Venus, Sarah Dunant

The Birth of Venus is about a young girl, Alessandra, in Renaissance Florence that is quickly spiraling out of control. She is a bit ahead of her time, as this novel is definitely done from a feminist perspective, but I liked her spirit and her curiosity and her relentlessness. The novel grabs you quickly with a suspenseful and then leaves you wondering how the prologue happened for most of the text. Luckily, there are answers to that, and other questions as well.

I enjoyed the book quite a bit. The setting was well-drawn and I felt very true to the Renaissance. Alessandra was a sympathetic character. Also, this is somewhat strange to comment on, but for a novel that involves romance, it wasn’t stereotypical at all. It is to me fairly original in its plot, which I always appreciate. I enjoyed the author’s prose style, especially in comparison to the last book I read, because I felt that I could get close to the characters and understand them, particularly Alessandra, and at times the density of her emotion struck me, too.

I did find the book historically improbable, but for once I don’t think this detracted from it. I wasn’t terribly surprised by one particular aspect of the ending, although to be honest I can’t remember why I guessed it, but I didn’t see some of the other events coming. Overall, I think it passes in the history department, as it doesn’t commit any blatant inaccuracies, only might-have-beens.

All in all, The Birth of Venus is an immersing historical experience that I would certainly recommend to someone else.

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