THE BIRTH OF VENUS by Sarah Dunant

This is a story of an artist of considerable talent, whose dedication to the craft should have ensured greatness. Unfortunately, the artist was born in 1477, and was a woman.

Set during the turbulent years of Savonarola’s stranglehold over Florence (1494-1498), this a coming-of-age story about a teenage girl, who marries a much older man so that she can pursue her dream of becoming an artist.

Needless to say, life does not go according to plan.

I’m not spoiling things by telling you that Sarah Dunant takes us on a journey that explains how a fiery, rebellious teenage artist ends up in a convent, because she provides a frame at the beginning of the novel, that is one of the most tantalizing beginnings I have read in a long time.

This novel is filled with vivid imagery of life in Florence during the 1490s. But what Ms. Dunant does so well is to convey the frustration felt by a young woman of talent who was not allowed to develop her craft because she was the ‘wrong’ sex.

I highly recommend it, especially for those of you interested in Florentine politics of the 1490s.

–Cynthia Haggard writes historical novels.  She has two completed manuscripts that will be published in the coming year. THWARTED QUEEN  is a portrait of a woman trapped by power, a marriage undone by betrayal, and a King brought down by fear.FAMILY SPLINTERS is  a novel about identity, forbidden love and family secrets. For more on her creative writing, go to spunstories. (c) 2011. All rights reserved.

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