Rio (Lynne)'s Reviews > The Birth of Venus

The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant
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Mar 25, 12

bookshelves: couldn-t-bring-myself-to-finish, historical-fiction, rome-italy-renaissance
Read on March 25, 2012

I made it 65 pages in, but I couldn't bring myself to finish. Another book I wanted to love! What a shame. Artist Domenico Ghirlandaio's was one of the great artists during the Italian Renaissance. The author weaves a story between Domenico and Alessandra Cecchi. Unfortunately, Alessandra's parents arrange a marriage for her to a much older man. Why did I lose interest when this story should have been so interesting? The author did that thing I hate. Pages and pages of unimportant details and descriptions. I prefer more story. I really wish I could find a great Italian book about historical figures that is as interesting as their lives actually were, so far no luck.
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Reading Progress

03/25/2012 page 51
13.0% "This is not looking good. I'm bored. Once again I hate pages and pages of unimportant detail."

Comments (showing 1-19 of 19) (19 new)

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Misfit I tried this once. Made it to around page 100 and it flew.


message 2: by Rio (Lynne) (new) - added it

Rio (Lynne) I'm not having much luck with Italian Renaissance Artists. The only one I liked was The Creation of Eve.


Misfit Fortunately that topic isn't really my cuppa interest.


message 4: by Orsolya (new)

Orsolya Agreed. I could continue with this one, either.


message 5: by Kim (new)

Kim I have a friend who is absolutely crazy about Italian Renaissance art and knows quite a bit about it, although not in a particularly academic way. She wouldn't mind descriptions in a novel if they concerned paintings and/ or her beloved Florence. Do you think this may appeal to someone like her?


Catie Like your friend I'm fascinated by the Italian Renaissance, esp. Florence or Venice - I loved this book and think your friend probably would too


message 7: by Kim (new)

Kim Catie wrote: "Like your friend I'm fascinated by the Italian Renaissance, esp. Florence or Venice - I loved this book and think your friend probably would too"

Thanks Catie. My friend just can't get enough of Renaissance art and history. I'll buy this one for her, as well as The Creation of Eve.

Have you been to Florence and Venice?


Catie I hope she loves it as much as I did! I haven't read The Creation of Eve - so I've just ordered it. Looks good. Small hope of reducing my tbr piles at this rate...

Yes I have been to Florence and Venice and Loved them both. Venice is my favourite (traveling up the Grand Canal in a gondola is one of the peak experiences of my life) and I'll read just about anything set there. But Florence is a close second.


message 9: by Rio (Lynne) (new) - added it

Rio (Lynne) I love Italy and Renaissance art. When I'm there I can look at it all day. Which is why I was looking for books that gave me more personal info. As you know Catie, the whole experience is more enriching when you know the story behind the art. The details and writing had nothing to do with art "at least up to where I stopped." It just didn't flow for me or keep my interest. I think you and hopefully Kim's friend will enjoy Creation of Eve. From what I googled about Sofonisba Anguissola, the author seemed right on.


message 10: by Rio (Lynne) (last edited Mar 26, 2012 07:03AM) (new) - added it

Rio (Lynne) Catie have you read Season of Storms? It was a 3 star overall for me, but the details about Venice were 5 star. You mentioned you love books set in Venice, so check it out. Also Leonardo's Swans another 3 star for me, but I loved the descriptions of Leonardo de Vinci. That book has made me add Ferrara to my list and my next trip to Italy.


Catie Rio (Lynne) wrote: "...the whole experience is more enriching when you know the story behind the art."

That's so true. But though I am very interested in the art, my interest doesn't stop there. I like to know as much as possible about the place and how people (not just the artists) lived their lives. For me Dunant's books (I actually prefer In the Company of the Courtesan probably because I'm such a Venice freak) build that world of Renaissance Italy so well that I almost feel I'm there and I can ask for nothing better.
Our responses to books are so individual - I didn't notice any unwanted detail and I just ate the whole thing up.


Catie Rio (Lynne) wrote: "Catie have you read ..."
I have read Season of Storms - not my favourite Kearsley but a good read nevertheless. Having stayed by Lake Gada in the past, I remember being slightly disappointed in the evocation of that area.
I haven't read Leonardo's Swans so will have to add that one. Thanks for the recommends.


message 13: by Rio (Lynne) (new) - added it

Rio (Lynne) I have In The Company of a Courtesan in my pile. As for Season of The Storms, I agree. Not Kearsley's best.


message 14: by Kim (new)

Kim Catie wrote: "For me Dunant's books (I actually prefer In the Company of the Courtesan probably because I'm such a Venice freak) build that world of Renaissance Italy so well that I almost feel I'm there and I can ask for nothing better..."

Thank you! Another one to add to my gift list. And thank you too, Rio. I'll check out Leonardo's Swans.

I love both Venice and Florence and I find it hard to say which of the two cities I love most. My husband prefers Venice because of the water, but I can still remember tears coming to my eyes the first time I saw the Florence skyline, which I think came from desperately wanting to go to Florence for about 15 years before I actually went!


Dawn (& Ron) I liked Leonardo's Swans and the Birth of Venus but didn't love them. They both got a 3-1/2. Even though I'm an artist and can really enjoy those descriptions of the process of painting, which may bore others, I admit there were parts that really dragged in Venus, for Swans I'd say Rio's description sums it up.

One of my favorite Italian art HF books was Susan Vreeland's The Passion of Artemisia about the first professionally recognized female painter. I also have Artemisia: A Novel by Alexandra Lapierre. I'm so glad to hear so many say they really like or love The Creation of Eve since I've got that one in my TBR pile.

It's funny Ferrara was mentioned by Rio, I'm currently reading Elizabeth Loupas'sThe Second Duchess, no artist in the story but yet art is still a part of the story. It's hard to do a book, set in Italy, in that time period and have no art or artists mentioned.


message 16: by Catie (last edited Mar 26, 2012 11:06PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Catie Kim wrote: "Another one to add to my gift list. ..."

I should be clear that In the Company of the Courtesan is not about art. It is about Venice toward the end of it's heyday. But as Dawn says "It's hard to do a book, set in Italy, in that time period and have no art or artists mentioned."


Catie Dawn (& Ron) wrote: "One of my favorite Italian art HF books was Susan Vreeland's The Passion of Artemisia about the first professionally recognized female painter. ..."
Thanks, that's another one added to my tbr. If you are interested in early female artists you might like The Serpent Garden which is about an invented female portrait painter in the court of Henry VIII of England. You have to be able to take on board significant fantasy elements and humour though. Some recent reviewers seem to think she's taking the pee out of Dan Brown, but this book far pre-dates him.


message 18: by Rio (Lynne) (new) - added it

Rio (Lynne) The Last Duchess secured me going to Ferrara. Love that book and can't wait for Loupas' newest.


Dawn (& Ron) Catie, I really liked Judith Merkle Riley's Serpent Garden, so I strongly second it! Somehow the way she melded the fantasy elements didn't bother me. I've read two of hers, both with these elements and they are really a fun a different read. I've never read Dan Brown, although we do have book on our TBR shelves but she beat him by a long shot. All you have to do is look at publishing dates.

I hope you like Artemesia, her life story is incredible and her work could be quite dark, which is understandable once you learn of her life. So if you don't know about her, please don't look her up and learn too much before reading the book.

Rio, I'm over 60% done with Second Duchess and really didn't expect the joined forces to happen, but that has added another level of enjoyment to the book for me. As you know Misfit loved her second book so another one for the to-read wishlist.


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