Tuesday, February 20, 2007
In a Nutshell:
This story takes place in 15 century Florence. the Medicis are no longer, and there is a fundamentalist monk that has taken over the city. Everyone needs to watch out how they dress, act or talk, less you be thrown in jail for impure thoughts or actions. In the middle of this tumultuous backdrop is our main character, 14 year old Alessandra Cecchi, who through an arranged marriage is forced to be the wife of a man who she finds prefers the company of men (her brother, in particular). He marries Alessandra to hide his double life and hopes she can produce an heir to quiet any scandal. In turn he promises to give her all the freedom she wants. This gives her leave to learn how to paint. That is how she meets the tormented, young artist who teaches her not only how to paint, but how to love. As Florence's political intrigue and turmoil draws to a climax, so do all the relationships around Alessandra.
This was a very interesting historical journey about what happened to Florence right after the Medici family fell. We often learn about the wonderful, posh Renaissance that the Medicis helped drive, but not after. It was also interesting to understand the plight of women during that time. And if a woman like Alessandra wanted to learn to paint, it was practically impossible to do so. You sympathize with Alessandra as she has a disappointing wedding night and discovers the shortcomings of her husband. Also, she falls in love with an artist that she can't be with, but in the end through the relationship gives her liberation. And just when you think the ending is going to happen in the typical love story-train wreck kind of way, she takes you for an unexpected loop. It was a good read. I enjoyed it.