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Extended Audio Sample The Birth of Venus: A Novel, 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: Jenny Sterlin Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Alessandra Cecchi is not quite fifteen when her father, a prosperous cloth merchant, brings a young painter back from northern Europe to decorate the chapel walls in the family’s Florentine palazzo. A child of the Renaissance, with a precocious mind and a talent for drawing, Alessandra is intoxicated by the painter’s abilities.

But their burgeoning relationship is interrupted when Alessandra’s parents arrange her marriage to a wealthy, much older man. Meanwhile, Florence is changing, increasingly subject to the growing suppression imposed by the fundamentalist monk Savonarola, who is seizing religious and political control. Alessandra and her native city are caught between the Medici state, with its love of luxury, learning, and dazzling art, and the hellfire preaching and increasing violence of Savonarola’s reactionary followers. Played out against this turbulent backdrop, Alessandra’s married life is a misery, except for the surprising freedom it allows her to pursue her powerful attraction to the young painter and his art.

The Birth of Venus is a tour de force, the first historical novel from one of Britain’s most innovative writers of literary suspense. It brings alive the history of Florence at its most dramatic period, telling a compulsively absorbing story of love, art, religion, and power through the passionate voice of Alessandra, a heroine with the same vibrancy of spirit as her beloved city.

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Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Arielle | 2/14/2014

    " I really enjoyed this book. The narrator (and main character) was so well-developed and I loved her views and her personality. The time in which the story takes place is near and dear to my heart as an art history student of the Italian Renaissance, and I have to say her history was quite accurate and did not distract me from Alessandra's own story, which I loved (as fact and fiction are not easy to blend!). It was also beautifully and poetically written in a way which did not bog me down with adverbs or slow down the story with lengthy sentences. Overall, a great (and quick) read! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Atty | 1/23/2014

    " I had recently read the Secret Book of Grazia dei Rossi and was floored to realize that this book seemed to be a copy! This book was not nearly as well written tet sold far more copies. A sad reality. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Penelope | 1/10/2014

    " This was a fabulous book that I enjoyed immensely. Great characters, fascinating period and a story that kept you turning the pages. From the very beginning I was hooked and found myself pondering on the story even when I wasn't reading it. Surely, the sign of an excellent book? "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Lynn Shields | 1/5/2014

    " One of my all-time favorites "

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