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The Birth of Venus: A Novel [Audio CD]

4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Birth of a great novel May 22 2005
Dunant dares the reader to put this one down! While I will admit that BIRTH OF VENUS is certainly imbued with an anachronistically modern sensibility, not to mention language, those glaring facts do not detract from the sheer enjoyment of the novel. I am not usually a fan of the first person narrative (particularly in historical fiction for the very reasons stated above, which are almost inevitable). However, for this book it couldn't have been done any other way. How else to better portray a character who so resides in her own mind than to deliver her story in her own words? I was riveted from the opening scenes to the last and miss the characters no longer cascading through the pages. The only other book that touched me this deeply was Jackson McCrae's CHILDREN'S CORNER with its quirky characters and tangled stories. I was sorry to see VENUS end, even if the resolution left me a little cold. As much as I enjoyed the vibrancy of the story, however, there was one nagging question, was "the painter" based on a real artist as I believe was the intention? (although I could be mistaken) If so, WHO was it?! Must also recommend THE FOREST LOVER as another great read. Also, check out the McCrae.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great novel, very unusual, highly recommended Feb. 2 2005
Recently I've come across two excellent books, and this is a rare thing. My luck is not usually that good, especially with bestsellers and their ilk. The first one was Jackson McCrae's THE CHILDREN'S CORNER, which is excellent. But the even better bet for your money is Dunant's BIRTH OF VENUS. Dunant is a class apart from most authors of historical romance. It's the subtlety and perceptiveness of her characterisation that's so refreshingly different from the cliched norm. There are no gods and no monsters in her universe -- only humans, imperfect yet each striving to be the best they can imagine being. In her previous contemporary thrillers we could understand and even empathise with the motivations and aspirations of her 'villains' as much as her 'heroines'. The same is true in this dazzlingly vivid portrayal of a young woman's struggle to find a way to be who she might be as an individual (when a female could only be property), set against the turbulent backdrop of one of the most astounding and pivotal episodes in the shaping of Western civilisation. There are no crude shortcuts or cyphers here -- even peripheral characters are delicately nuanced and believable. Readers of Dunant's earlier work won't be disappointed -- the book's intricately woven subplots create an atmosphere that's intriguing and suspenseful -- but lovers of the historical romance genre will be equally entranced, for the most compelling aspect of this sumptuous novel is the sheer visceral force of its evocation of time and place. Colours, textures, smells... the pages drip with lavishly savourful but never obtrusively showy descriptive detailing of the essences of Alessandra's 15th-century city-world. Read more ›
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great historical fiction Dec 12 2004
This book, set in 15th century Florence, is told through the eyes of the main character Alessandra, a 14 year old girl who has led a sheltered life and who longs to paint. She possesses a strong mind and tells the story with such grace and humility that even the most distasteful parts still read like fine poetry. Alessandra comes from a wealthy family and due to the turbulent times ends up married before she is even 15. She befriends a painter and boldly challenges him to review her work.
I especially loved the references to art and faith, and feel this is a story many will quickly jump in and sail along with. I found myself anxious to find out what would happen next, as the book is not only written with a beautiful voice but has the added interest of history, realism, and mystery. Quite simply, you want to find out what happens to this girl.
I would recommend this for a great long weekend. Turn off the phone and snuggle in for a great story.
From the author of The Difference Now.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A sensual tale of Renaissance Florence June 27 2004
By A Customer
I picked this book up not knowing what to expect. What I discovered is an especially intriguing tale of love, lust, death, rebellion, passion and art.
The story is told from the perspective of a young girl, Alessandra, who is coming of age in Florence at a time when most of Europe is at war and on the cusp of a period of great change and renewal. While her wealthy family tries to shelter her from the sins of the outside world, Alessandra's thirst for knowledge and her passion for art keep her constantly searching for new experiences. This thirst only grows when a young painter comes to live with her family and Alessandra comes to know a new form of passion - that of the flesh.
As time passes, Alessandra's rebellious inclinations grow, clashing with the ideal of women at the time as well as with her family's expectations. Yet while her family and husband allow her to discreetly pursue her passions, when the fanatical monk Savoranola takes power and the inquisition comes to Florence, Alessandra's life is affected in ways she never imagined.
In this exciting novel, Durant mingles fact and fiction in a beautiful and compelling manner. Anyone who enjoys historical fiction or is interested in life in early Renaissance Italy will enjoy this book a great deal.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
I enjoyed this book. Some history woven throughout.
Published 1 month ago by Alison Brown
4.0 out of 5 stars How to colour a trip to Italy
I bought this book just prior to a trip to Italy and carried it from Rome to Florence to Venice. I did not finish it until I got home as Italy is such an overwhelming place and... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Evelyn Schmitz-Hertzberg
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous book!!!
One of the best books I've ever read (and I'm a big reader), along with the author's In the Company of the Courtesan. Read more
Published on March 8 2011 by Janet L.
4.0 out of 5 stars What a lovely book!
I was given this book as a present and was hooked from page one. Set in Florence during the Reinassance, it is a very believable picture of life back then, described in such... Read more
Published on Sept. 4 2007 by I LOVE BOOKS
2.0 out of 5 stars Leaves you flat
A child of the Renaissance, with a precious mind and talent for drawing is not quite fifteen when her father, a prosperous cloth merchant, brings to his Florence palazzo a young... Read more
Published on July 9 2007 by Toni Osborne
1.0 out of 5 stars Gave up after 120+ pages
I know I'm going to be in the minority here, but I could not get into this book. I found nothing to interest me, no chemistry between the two main characters, and if I want to read... Read more
Published on March 6 2007 by Misfit
5.0 out of 5 stars Birth of a great novel
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. Read more
Published on July 2 2005 by Peter Rabando
4.0 out of 5 stars Historical fiction and fantasy
By far one of the best books I've read this year (the other one was McCrae's "The Bark of the Dogwood") I found this Dunant novel to be as fresh and exciting as anything... Read more
Published on Oct. 20 2004 by Andy Wolfe
5.0 out of 5 stars Mesmerizing
Mesmerizing is the word for this book, nay, novel, for it is, without a doubt, one of the most unusal pieces of literature I've come across in a while. Read more
Published on Oct. 2 2004 by "peterpadaninni"
5.0 out of 5 stars Five stars--no less
Dunant's wonderfully told story manages to combine 15th century Florence with plagues, invasions, sex, love, drama, and just about every other element in the universe. Read more
Published on Aug. 13 2004
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