Title: The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence: A Story of Botticelli
Author: Alyssa Palombo
Publication: April 25th 2017 by St. Martin’s Griffin
Genre: Historical Fiction
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Kobo
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.
Wow! This story was something very special. Botticelli is one of my favorite artists so I just had to read this. It really reawakened my love for books set in the Renaissance and Italy. Both have always been favorite topics of mine to read about, especially Florence. I devoured this book in less than two days, which I didn’t think I’d be able to but I just couldn’t put the book down.
This book tells the story about Simonetta Cattaneo who was declared the most beautiful woman in Florence. After getting married to Marco Vespucci and moving away from her parents’ home in Genoa, she fully embraced her new life in the midsts of Florence’s most acclaimed politicians like Lorenzo de’ Medici, artists like Sandro Botticelli and many others. When Botticilli asks Simonetta to pose for him, they grow very close and eventually she becomes his muse for his masterpiece, The Birth of Venus.
The story is very character driven. I didn’t always like most of the characters all the time but I felt really invested in them. Especially when it came to Simonetta and Botticelli. I knew this book would probably end in tragedy but I still wasn’t prepared for that rather sad ending. Still, I think it was written in a rather remarkable way. And the writing was just so stunning. I absolutely loved it.
The book features obviously a lot of historical figures who have actually excisted. Those are my favorite kind of historical fiction novels. Simonetta was unknown to me before I read this book so I’m glad the author wrote about her and Botticelli even though we won’t know for sure how and if they truly had some sort of relationship. But it seems very likely to me. Also, I would highly recommend for any readers of this book to read the author’s note. It was really interesting to me.
ALYSSA PALOMBO is the author of The Violinist of Venice and The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence. She has published short fiction pieces in Black Lantern Magazine and The Great Lakes Review. She is a recent graduate of Canisius College with degrees in English and creative writing, respectively. A passionate music lover, she is a classically trained musician as well as a big fan of heavy metal. The Violinist of Venice is her first novel. She lives in Buffalo, New York.
Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Instagram