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Extended Audio Sample The Birth of Venus: A Novel Audiobook, by Sarah Dunant Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (42,253 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Sarah Dunant Narrator: Kathe Mazur Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: November 2003 ISBN: 9781415902332
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Alessandra is not quite fifteen when her prosperous merchant father brings a young painter back with him from Holland to adorn the walls of the new family chapel. She is fascinated by his talents and envious of his abilities and opportunities to paint to the glory of God. Soon her love of art and her lively independence are luring her into closer involvement with all sorts of taboo areas of life. On excursions into the streets of night-time Florence she observes a terrible evil stalking the city and witnesses the rise of the fiery young priest, Savanarola, who has set out to rid the city of vice, richness, even art itself. Alessandra must make crucial decisions about the shape of her adult life, as Florence itself must choose between the old ways of the luxury-loving Medicis and the asceticism of Savanorola. And through it all, there is the painter, whose love will change everything. Download and start listening now!

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Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kate Rakena | 2/11/2014

    " Loved this story, all the element I look for, history, Italy, art.... Loved it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jenne | 2/9/2014

    " Loved this book. Read it during my "Italy" phase. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Janis Gilbert | 2/5/2014

    " Book about Florence around 1450 and the rule of Savonarola, a fundmentalist monk, that was finally hanged and burned by the Catholic Church. But it was mostly about a precocious girl that wanted to be a painter and her life. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Morgan | 1/28/2014

    " I thought this book was a very good read and I would recommend it to people who enjoy historical fiction, art, and Europe. The book is about a girl named Alessandra growing up in Italy during the late 15th century. She has a passion for art, and falls in love with a painter working for her father. She is then married off to a man who she later finds is involved with her brother. This book constantly surprised me, and it was beautifully written. I can't wait to read this book again with the knowledge I have now, and I also want to do some research about the society of Italy during this time period. The Birth of Venus is an amazing book that I think any good reader will enjoy! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marin | 1/26/2014

    " This was gripping. And I didn't even realize it until I was halfway through, staying up reading until I could no longer keep my eyelids from falling down. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Sylvia | 1/22/2014

    " The book started out really well. I was very intrigued, but then it just got weird. The direction of the story took a turn way off the original story line. Hated it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Brittany Gadt | 1/21/2014

    " Beautifully written coming of age story set against 15th century Florence, Italy. A little taste of everything; love, art, politics, religion and the power to provoke introspection. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Christina Wallis | 1/9/2014

    " I couldn't finish it. It was too boring. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Shilpa | 1/3/2014

    " nice read. gives an inkling of history of florence. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jennifer Seeboth | 1/1/2014

    " Such a great book on so many different levels. As soon as I finished I flipped right to the begining to start it again. I have never done that before. Put this one on your to read list. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marie | 12/18/2013

    " I'm a sucker for any story set in Florence, and this one, which takes place during Savonrola's four years of power in the 1400's, was a great bit of historical fiction. I cared about the characters, I enjoyed the plot, and I loved how it ended. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Janice | 11/28/2013

    " Incredible novel. It has definitely found a place in my favourites. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mairi_k | 5/18/2013

    " Gorgeous period detail - a great romp. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bridget Malachowski | 1/25/2013

    " Read this book right after I came back from a trip to Florence, Italy. It was very cool to be able to visualize all the places they were mentioning in the book. I recommend it to anyone taking a trip to Florence! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sarah | 1/6/2013

    " Well-written and interesting because I like art history. But I was offended by the sexually explicit material. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ray | 10/23/2012

    " Yes... Yes... Yes... This book has brought me hours of enjoyment. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Wendy Ross | 10/13/2012

    " One of the most sensual books I have ever read- amazing story and great plot. This is one of my favorite books! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jeffrey Cavanaugh | 5/7/2012

    " A wonderfully complex piece of historical fiction that draws you into the world of 15th-century Florence; a city alive with the passions of art, religion, and politics. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sheena | 11/9/2011

    " This book is amazing. Very well written, intriguing, the main character is dynamic and very likable. It's pretty much right up my alley, because it takes place in Florence during the Renaissance and I love historical fiction. Lots of descriptions of painting and drawing, too, which I love. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kris | 10/21/2011

    " I really enjoyed this book. I enjoy historical fiction, and particularly a female perspective on history, but it's also just a page turner. Seriously - we'd go for a drive and I'd just stay in the driveway finishing the chapter upon our return. Good story! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tricia | 6/27/2011

    " Interesting - and feels well researched "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lynn Shields | 6/24/2011

    " One of my all-time favorites "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Elizabeth | 5/22/2011

    " Interesting but not as good as other two in the trilogy "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Mel | 5/20/2011

    " Just finished this book earlier this month..not such a fan of it. I found myself continually reading just to find a good point in the story. Will not read this book again, or recommend it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jenna | 5/12/2011

    " Amazing! I knew nothing about this period in history before delving into the story and yet I was still fascinated at how Dunant captures this moment so vividly. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ellen | 5/10/2011

    " I'd give this book 3 1/2 stars, the historical aspect of this book was interesting. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Katie | 5/3/2011

    " Pretty good,not the best, but entertaining enough to justify reading. Ugh,,,that's a pretty weak recommendation ain't it??? "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Cindy | 4/30/2011

    " This is a fictional story of a young woman in Florence Italy, of love, life and art in the late 1400's.
    I would have given it a higher rating if it weren't so graphic. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jess | 4/25/2011

    " Way too cheesy for me. Discussions of art marred by silly descriptions of wet folds. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Beth | 4/20/2011

    " just get through the first chapter (it's a little weird and you'll be like "what the hell am i reading!) and the rest will fall in place...........promise! "

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About the Author
Author Sarah DunantSarah Dunant is the author of the international bestsellers The Birth of Venus, In the Company of the Courtesan, Sacred Hearts, and Blood and Beauty, which have received major acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic. Her earlier novels include three Hannah Wolfe crime thrillers, as well as Snowstorms in a Hot Climate, Transgressions, and Mapping the Edge, all three of which are available in paperback from Random House. She has two daughters and lives in London and Florence.
About the Narrator

Kathe Mazur has narrated many audiobooks, winning the prestigious Audie Award for best narration in 2014, being named a finalist for the Audie Award in 2013 and 2015, and winning seven AudioFile Earphones Awards. As an actress, she can be seen as DDA Hobbs on The Closer and in the upcoming Major Crimes. She has worked extensively in film, theater, and television, including appearances on Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, House, Brothers and Sisters, Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior, ER, Monk, and many others.