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.