Good Reading : May 2017
The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence Alyssa Palombo Simonetta Vespucci was a young woman much feted and admired in the Florence of Lorenzo de’ Medici, and she is believed to be the model for Boticelli’s most famous work The Birth of Venus. Told in the first person, this story recounts her preparation for marr iage in 1470, detailing the life of a wealthy Italian family and the expectations of aristocratic women of the time. We learn of the curse and blessing that was her apparently astonishing beauty, which meant that she was admired almost as a work of art, and this alone ensured her acceptance into the glittering Medici court as a married woman. But in the novel she is also a woman of considerable intellect, in addition to being feted as the most beautiful woman in Florence; she was apparently the Renaissance equivalent of a modern superstar. The Medicis and other prominent historical figures appear as characters and add to the clever dialogue and sumptuous atmosphere of the book. Simonetta begins to develop feelings for the painter, Sandro Boticelli, as the story progresses. He admires her for her intellect as well as for her profound beauty. Their feelings blossom into love, and she becomes his muse, inspiring him to great works of art. A word of advice: make sure you access images of the works of Boticelli, as you will want to look at the works that are considered to be depictions of Simonetta as you read. Very little is actually known about Simonetta, as she is not much more than a footnote in the history of the Medicis and art. This gap in the record gives the author an opportunity to develop Simonetta’s personality, interests and friends. I enjoyed this novel tremendously. An enjoyable journey to another time and place, it’s witty, detailed and well researched. ★★★★ Macmillan $29.99 Reviewed by Lesley West The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence Alyssa Palombo Sthe Florence of Lorenzo de’ Medici, and she is believed to be the model for Boticelli’s most famous work The Birth of Venus. recounts her preparation for marr iage in 1470, detailing the life GENERAL FICTION About Alyssa Palombo Alyssa Palombo lives in Buffalo, New York. She is a classically trained mezzo-soprano who also likes to play the piano now and then. Her first book, The Violinist of Venice, told the story of a young woman who becomes a violin student of composer Antonio Vivaldi – but soon becomes his lover. Alyssa’s favourite piece of music is Vivaldi’s Concerto in B minor for Four Violins, Op. 3, No. 10.