Author: Alyssa Palombo
Published by: St. Martin's Griffin on Apr. 25, 2017
Genres: Historical Fiction
Format: eBook, ARC
Source: St. Martin's Press, NetGalley
Book Rating: 8/10
A girl as beautiful as Simonetta Cattaneo never wants for marriage proposals in 15th Century Italy, but she jumps at the chance to marry Marco Vespucci. Marco is young, handsome and well-educated. Not to mention he is one of the powerful Medici family’s favored circle.
Even before her marriage with Marco is set, Simonetta is swept up into Lorenzo and Giuliano de’ Medici’s glittering circle of politicians, poets, artists, and philosophers. The men of Florence―most notably the rakish Giuliano de’ Medici―become enthralled with her beauty. That she is educated and an ardent reader of poetry makes her more desirable and fashionable still. But it is her acquaintance with a young painter, Sandro Botticelli, which strikes her heart most. Botticelli immediately invites Simonetta, newly proclaimed the most beautiful woman in Florence, to pose for him. As Simonetta learns to navigate her marriage, her place in Florentine society, and the politics of beauty and desire, she and Botticelli develop a passionate intimacy, one that leads to her immortalization in his masterpiece, The Birth of Venus.
Book Rating: 8/10
This is an intriguing interpretation about the life of Simonetta Cattaneo, a young, intelligent girl who became known as the “Most Beautiful Woman of Florence” and who developed a close, intimate relationship with the famous Renaissance painter, Sandro Botticelli.
It is a story about familial responsibilities, duty, strength, coming-of-age, friendship, art, passion, desire, loss and love.
Simonetta was a feminist ahead of her time who understood quickly that her beauty was both a gift and a curse, and who ultimately longed and strived in her regrettably short life to be known and loved for her knowledge and mind instead.
The prose is smooth and fluid, and the storyline takes us back to the mid-to-late 1400s to the city of Florence when politics, learning and the liberal arts were revered and who you knew was certainly more important than what you knew.
This certainly is a well written, vivid, rich story, and even though there is not much known about Simonetta’s life and the events that led up to Botticelli’s immortalization of her in his famous painting, Palombo has done a remarkable job of taking those historical facts and surrounding them with fiction that is passionate, alluring and incredibly captivating.
This novel is due to be published on April 25, 2017.
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Thank you to NetGalley, especially St. Martin’s Press, for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.