Set in quattrocento Renaissance Florence, “The Birth of Venus” follows the life of young Florentine noblewoman Alessandra Cecchi, a strong-willed and precocious girl who shows promise as a burgeoning artist. Daughter of a prominent cloth merchant, Alessandra lives a luxurious life as an upper-class Renaissance woman, but her endless curiosity and stubborn nature are at odds with what society dictates is proper for women her age, and she chafes under her father’s patriarchal rule. Part feminist struggle and part love story, Sarah Dunant’s novel paints a vivid and intimate portrait of 15th-century Renaissance Florence both in times of artistic prospering and religious strife.

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