Written by: Sarah Dunant
Released: March 6, 2003 by Little Brown
Summary: 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.
I bought this book in the Rome airport because I have an addiction and I wanted a book. Sure, I read a few pages while we waited to board the plane, but once we were seated and in the air I was out like a light. Granted, I had stayed up all night preparing to sleep the entire trip home, so it was completely expected that I would pass out in my seat until we started to descend into Toronto.
However, the few pages that I had read while waiting in the airport were enough to make me want to read the rest once we landed and were on-route for home. So, that weekend while I was recovering from jet lag, I finished the book.
Let me just say that this was an amazing book. At the time it was unlike anything that I had read before and it opened a whole new genre of literature to me. Plus, it was so rich in the story and the characters. I think that there were several times that I found myself tearing up at what was happening.
All in all, this is a great book. I loaned it to a co-worker this summer and she loved it too. I'm giving it an 8/10.