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Birth of Venus

Average Rating 4
( 237 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(112)

4 Star

(77)

3 Star

(27)

2 Star

(15)

1 Star

(6)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

A Strong Novel That Fizzles in the End

'The Birth of Venus', set in 15th Century Florence, is a story of art, intrigue, and power. Dunant captures the importance of art in the period, the struggles of women at that time. She also shows the destruction and resurrection that religious fervor can caus...
'The Birth of Venus', set in 15th Century Florence, is a story of art, intrigue, and power. Dunant captures the importance of art in the period, the struggles of women at that time. She also shows the destruction and resurrection that religious fervor can cause. Dunant did an excellent job capturing my attention throughout this book with her strong story lines, and her hints of stories yet to be unveiled later on in the book. I stayed-up for hours to read this book, and even brought it to work to read at lunch because I hungered for more! She introduces mesmerizing characters and builds the background of events so carefully, that you wonder what culmination will come of it. Unfortunately, Dunant also makes the mistake that many writers do, of finishing her work too early, in a rush to end the story. The beginning and 'meat' of the novel were outstanding, but the characters fizzled in the end, and the story line with them. The revelation of the mysteries hinted in the book are disappointing at best, and can best be described as boring and uninspired. I will give this book 4 stars because overall it was a very enjoyable read, but it is almost as if a second author came in and finished 'Part IV' after just glancing at the first three parts.

posted by Anonymous on August 21, 2008

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Most Helpful Critical Review

3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

A reviewer

Overrated, this novel takes a stock heroine-- bright teenaged girl near arranged marriage, considered ugly duckling, inwardly rebelling against her female role in society. Though she never does anything about it. Supposedly she is versed in the classics, but we get non...
Overrated, this novel takes a stock heroine-- bright teenaged girl near arranged marriage, considered ugly duckling, inwardly rebelling against her female role in society. Though she never does anything about it. Supposedly she is versed in the classics, but we get none of that in her viewpoint, only how she longs to paint various saints, ad nauseum. Although religion played a big role in this time, people couldn't have thought about it to the exclusion of everything else, as she virtually does. The real story is the rise and fall of Savonarola in Florence. There is a weak watered-down romance which plays only a small role. It is hard to understand how the writing itself is praised. It is workmanlike and pedestrian, nothing out of the ordinary in any book. The research appears good, but it's disappointing overall.

posted by Anonymous on September 22, 2007

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 27, 2006

    Character Disappoints

    I was immediately enthralled with the mystery in the first chapter of the book. I then followed the story with zeal, enjoying the artistic and historic views of Florence. I felt the end of the story was preposterous, and the main character needed some character improvement. As a nun in a convent, I would have really liked it if she had done something more to help others, than to concentrate on her own fulfillment.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2006

    Vaguely Interesting and Mildly Disjointed

    The action of this novel takes places in Florence at a time when art, lust, sin, passion, and religion collide. The book recollects the journey of naive Alessandra Cecchi, supposedly a freethinking, fiery rebel. While she matures physically, she remains, 'til the end, highly dependent. She makes foolish decision after foolish decision and never improves. Although she endures hardships, I was never able to sympathize with Alessandra. The plot alternates between speeding and plodding, and the main character is bed-ridden during crucial moments. That aside, there is enough scandalous intrigue to make me pleased with the plot. The prose has descriptions that succeed in captivating the senses. However, none of the characters are fully 'fleshed out' (pun intended). Their backstories are quickly alluded to and their own views aren't expressed. Younger readers should be cautioned due to certain potentially objectionable scenes. There is a birth description horrific enough to easily prevent teenage pregnancy forever. Overall, this is a book for mature women who enjoy romance novels and are seeking a bit of history and culture.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2012

    Good if you like this genre

    I read this book for a book group and it wouldn't have been my choice to read, but we had a very lively and interesting discussion about it.

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  • Posted August 29, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Unfullfiled Desire!

    I really loved this book.. except one thing.. spoiler alert...

    Where's the happy ending?! When it ended, my jaw was dropped, and I was so angry that she never was able to love as passionately as she dreamed...

    Despite my disappointment with the ending, the story getting there was great. I loved the twist on her husband. It had quirky moments, many sad ones, lustful undertones and a passion for artistic discriptions.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2007

    Brilliant but unsatisfying

    This novel was excellent in that its plot was well-developed and full of intrigue, drama, and suspense. However, some parts were a bit too intricate - the countless different Italian chapels only served to confuse me - and some developments in the story were raised and dismissed so abruptly that the reader has little time to absorb them. I was disappointed in the ending as well, for I expected either a satisfying, tear-jerking tragedy or a comforting fairy-tale ending. If you are looking for a tragic or fulfilling love story, this isn't the book for you. If you don't mind a mixture, then I recommend it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2006

    Entertaining, Quick Read

    Sarah Dunant's novel is certainly intriguing, and I found myself staying up late several nights just because I wanted to read more. While some of the plot is beautifully fleshed out (the marriage night sequence is specifically memorable), at other times the novel is jumpy and a little superficial. You will not find much depth underneath the plot, and the symbology of the snake tattoo is heavy-handed at best. Overall, the novel is an enjoyable page-turner, but doesn't give much for an avid reader to 'chew on.'

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2006

    well...

    I thought it was extremely well written,but I hated some of the subject matter and the ending. Why does everyone seem to become a nun when things don't work out? Also, some of the scenes made my stomach turn in disgust.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 6, 2005

    An OK book

    I think this was an OK book because the premise of the book, the descriptions of Florence and the politics of the Catholic church at the time were very interesting. Unfortunately, the book dragged in many places and I found myself skimming the pages until I got to the next event. Im not one to think that stories should always have a happy ending but this book seemed to be over the top depressing. There was always the possibility of something happy in the distance, but the story line never got there.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2005

    'Birth' good start, not so great ending

    I truly enjoyed the beginning of this book. I am an art fanatic and love the renaissance period. Very good historical and artistic references, however a lengthy book and not easy to wiz by. I was not impressed with the ending otherwise this is a decent read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2005

    If you are in a rush to read all the books in the world--- skip this one!

    i love to read novels that hold strong description of the societies and lifestyles of the renaissance. this book is an excellent example of such. however, the plot moves a little too slow, and does not create an aura that will evoke interest from the reader. it only offers sympathy, and anger at the misjustice of the protagonist. okay read, but i wished i had read something else more fulfilling during that time.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2004

    Interesting, but...

    Birth of Venus was interesting, moved at a decent pace, but was a bit dark for me. The characters were strong, but some of the historical references were a bit off and at times very tedious. A little more emotion from the characters during their dilemas would have been more effective. It was an okay read, but there are other historical writers out there who are a lot better. The author is good, but not great.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 7, 2004

    Gone with the Wind ( Italy)meets tawdry romance novel

    Anticipating a lush and accurate portrait of Florence in the late 1400's, I greedily consumed 'The Birth of Venus'.From the overly sensational and vulgar beginning, I was disappointed throughout as this young girl shows no respect for the language, traditions, or morals of an upper class Florence girl that she was. There were moments of interest, but the repeated emphasis on sodomy, homosexuality, and the inclusion of a black maid servant( reminded me of Gone with the Wind, not Florence) made the book unbelievable and I lost respect for the heroine early. The ending was disappointing, and the unclear political situation confusing. Having studied this period of history, I enjoyed the book anyway, but unfortunately cannnot really recommend it as a great book. I was embarrassed by the vulgarity, and the descriptions of a serial killer's rampages reminded me of Jack the Ripper. Too many influences, seemed like the author did not know what book she was trying to copy sometimes. 'Girl with the Pearl Earring' I found much more erotic, well written and realistic. A good beach read, but not a great book by any means.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2004

    intriguing but dull

    I couldn't put it down and I needed to finish it so I could find out how it all wrapped up but still wished I hadn't started it. I found myself skimming sometimes which I don't think is a sign of a great book. It was an interesting premise but sometimes unneccessarily vulgar. I have both good and bad to say about it but in the end I wish I wouldn't have wasted my time.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 18, 2004

    Expected More

    Expected more...but did'nt really come up to that level. Would have preferred a little lesser detail in certain chapters.

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    Posted March 23, 2011

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    Posted January 14, 2010

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    Posted April 29, 2011

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    Posted April 5, 2010

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    Posted January 27, 2009

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    Posted October 27, 2008

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