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The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant
The Birth of Venus centers around a teenager, Alessandra Cecchi, in medieval Florence at the height of the Medici reign during the Renaissance. In 1492, her wealthy father brings home a young artist to decorate the chapel in the family's palazzo. Alessandra is a lively, strong-willed young woman whose attraction to the young artist is cut short by an arranged marriage to an older man. Frustrated by the limitations on women's freedoms and trapped in an unhappy marriage, Alessandra's desire for art and the artist becomes even more threatened when the fiery monk Savonarola takes control of the city, railing against its love for luxury and art. Sarah Dunant's novel of love, desire, art, and history has received mostly positive reviews with BookReporter.com saying, "The Birth of Venus is by turns mesmerizing and thought provoking, seductive and poignant."