Author: Alyssa Palombo
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publish Date: April 25, 2017
What's the Story?:
From Goodreads.com: "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."
My Two Cents:
"The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence" is the story of Simonetta, a woman who men fawn after whenever she walks by. At first she believes she is living a charmed life with a husband who actually adores and loves her and artists like Sandro Botticelli who want to paint her likeness. Looks can be deceiving though as we see in this latest historical fiction offering from Alyssa Palombo.
You've probably seen pictures of Simonetta. She is the muse for some of Botticelli's most famous paintings. I know I had seen her before but her story as a muse is largely glossed over by Botticelli's talent and renown. I loved how the author was able to take the story of a women who many have seen but few know details about and create a story to introduce us to the person behind the painting. The story does really focus on Simonetta (it is told from her perspective) and not Botticelli. This is one of the great things about historical fiction to me is that it can introduce you to those "behind the scenes."
The writing of the book was good! I loved Palombo's previous book about the famous composer Vivaldi. I didn't like this book quite as much but it is still a very good read. Simonetta has a very real feeling voice and I thought that getting to see the events of the book directly through her eyes was a very effective tool in getting me engaged with the book from the very beginning. This reader can't wait to see what Palombo does next!