I flew through THE BIRTH OF VENUS. The best parts about the novel are the obscure facts and details of Florence, the Renaissance, Art and Politics. Romance looms above it all. I found myself excited by the pace and adventure, hoping for the underdog, even though, at times, the underdog was wrong or at least difficult to root for. Perhaps even stubborn, in a way. Like the images and age she describes, Sarah Dunant has really created a work of art within itself with THE BIRTH OF VENUS. I recently had the pleasure of reading a novel by another great author who writes beautifully and yet has some jaw-dropping moments and heart-felt goodness---THE BARK OF THE DOGWOOD---A Tour of Southern homes and Gardens. Simply fantastic and first-rate. Check it out, but first, please, please read VENUS.