Saturday, August 1, 2009 By: Suzanne

Audio: The Birth of Venus

The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant is the story of Sister Lucrezia, who has left her life story for her daughter to read after dying in her convent. She has been a part of this convent for the better part of her life and when she dies of breast cancer she leaves an odd set of instructions for the nuns who will have to prepare her body. She states she does not want to be cleaned and put in a new shift. The one she wore to serve God will do her just fine. However, with an outbreak of the plague, it is decided that her old clothes must be burned. As the sisters remove the clothes from her corpse they are surprised to find that the tumor that has been such a cause of pain for Sister Lucrezia is no more than a pig's bladder held to her breast. Ripping off her garments fully, reveals a long, sensuous silver snake tattoo running the length of her body and ending with the tip of its tongue at the tip of "her sex." The story beginning on the following pages is of Allessandra Cecchi, Sister Lecrezia's name before joining the convent. This is how we find out how this nun came to be in the convent, why she would lie about her manner of death, and where this tattoo came from.

I can't say I'm giving much away here, it's simply the intro the story that got me hooked and I wanted to share this part with everyone. It is not what's on the back of the book, I feel that gives too much away. I enjoyed this story. I was fascinated by Allessandra. She's a modern woman in a backward time in Florence but also in a time when the world was changing and learning new things (if you happened to be a man). This book deals with a lot of historical events in periphery to Allessandra's life but could not be considered historical fiction as it doesn't deal directly with historical figures, except one known painter. Who knows where Dunant got the idea for this but it's ingenious really. I like what she's done with this painter. That's all I'm going to say on that subject! You just have to read it.

Like I said I enjoyed this book and it has me interested in reading other books by Dunant. It was a nice change of pace from what I normally read.


Anonymous said...

I've heard good things about this one. Great review :)

Rebecca :) said...

I have this book and I am wanting to read it for a couple of challenges this year. You have inspired me to pick it up and read it next! I am wondering how you liked the narrator in the audio version. Narrators can make or break an audio book.

Tonya said...

You're right about that and I liked this narrator. I felt she made the character come alive for me. There have a couple times in the past when I stopped listening to an audio because the narrator was simply annoying.