The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence: A Story of Botticelli by Alyssa Palombo

The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence: A Story of Botticelli

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 g...

Title:The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence: A Story of Botticelli
Author:
Rating:
ISBN:125007150X
Number of Pages:320 pages

The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence: A Story of Botticelli Reviews

  • Alyssa Palombo

    This is my second novel, about real-life historical figure Simonetta Vespucci and how she inspired the artist Sandro Botticelli. I can't wait for everyone to read it! :)

  • Jenny Q

    3.5 Stars. Simonetta Cattaneo is a beautiful young woman, raised in Genoa with a sheltered childhood, allowed to learn the basics of reading and writing, but not allowed to further her education beyond that, though she yearns to study the great masters of literature and art. So when a handsome young Florentine man comes calling with poetry and promises of a grand life in Florence, a city alive with new ideas and overflowing with art and literature, Simonetta gladly accepts his offer.

    Simonetta ma

    3.5 Stars. Simonetta Cattaneo is a beautiful young woman, raised in Genoa with a sheltered childhood, allowed to learn the basics of reading and writing, but not allowed to further her education beyond that, though she yearns to study the great masters of literature and art. So when a handsome young Florentine man comes calling with poetry and promises of a grand life in Florence, a city alive with new ideas and overflowing with art and literature, Simonetta gladly accepts his offer.

    Simonetta marries Marco Vespucci, who is friends with the man behind the Florentine Renaissance, Lorenzo de' Medici, Il Magnifico. Simonetta instantly becomes the star of the de' Medicis' social circle, and soon all of Florence is caught up in the idea of her--emulating her fashion, fighting for a glimpse of her, and gifting her with the title of the most beautiful woman in Florence. She also catches the eye of young Sandro Botticelli and sits for him for a portrait. Moved by her beauty, both inside and out, her likeness begins to appear in more of his works. Simonetta is in heaven, free to read all she wants and to discuss the new and somewhat heretical ideas sweeping through the country with other intellectuals. But not everyone is happy with her esteemed status, and as her star eclipses her husband's, and as so many men vie for her attention, jealousy and thwarted ambition lead to problems in their marriage. Somewhat disillusioned and suffering from bouts of ill health, Simonetta seizes the chance to sit for Botticelli again, this time to be immortalized in his famous masterpiece, The Birth of Venus. Over the course of many months, the relationship between the artist and his muse becomes tangled, and a forbidden passion erupts, though fate will soon intervene with tragic consequences.

    Having enjoyed Alyssa Palombo's first novel, and always up for a story that pays homage to a woman forgotten by history, I was super excited to read this book. And I did enjoy it. But there are two things that keep me from rating this book higher. The first is that the plot is incredibly slow-moving. It starts off well, but once Simonetta is married, it falls into a pattern of parties and intellectual discussions. In fact, there is essentially no conflict in the story whatsoever until about page 185 in a story that's 289 pages long. The second thing is that I have the same complaint I had with the author's first novel,

    , and that is that, like Vivaldi in that book, we don't really get to know Botticelli at all. We don't learn where he was born, who his family was and if they had a good relationship, we don't learn anything about his art training and education, we don't even know how old he is during this story. So that was a little frustrating for a novel subtitled "A Story of Botticelli."

    But once conflict finally does kick the plot into gear, I couldn't put it down. It's emotional tension that drives this story, and though Simonetta is the most beautiful woman in Florence, that does not mean that the things that are most important in life come easily for her. This truly is Simonetta's story, and she's an easy character to love. I cried at the end. You would think the woman who inspired one of the most famous paintings of all time would be better remembered by history, and I'm glad Alyssa Palombo gave her a voice and a stage on which to shine. And I very much appreciated the author's note, in which she elaborates on some known facts and explains some creative decisions she made. Some scholars dismiss the notion, but I found Palombo's depiction of the relationship between Boticelli and his muse to be very plausible. Despite my quibbles, I can recommend

    as a good choice for any fiction reader with a love of art history and an interest in the Italian Renaissance.

  • Crystal King

    I have always loved the works of Botticelli, and have seen the famous painting of the Birth of Venus in the Uffizi. I was not prepared, however, for the way that Alyssa yanked me into her story and kept me there, so smitten was I that I stayed up far too late in the night to find out what happened to the beautiful Simonetta and her love, Sandro. I will never again be able to look at a Botticelli and not think of this novel. The characters are masterfully wrought, the setting of Florence bright a

    I have always loved the works of Botticelli, and have seen the famous painting of the Birth of Venus in the Uffizi. I was not prepared, however, for the way that Alyssa yanked me into her story and kept me there, so smitten was I that I stayed up far too late in the night to find out what happened to the beautiful Simonetta and her love, Sandro. I will never again be able to look at a Botticelli and not think of this novel. The characters are masterfully wrought, the setting of Florence bright and visual, and the love story is one that will warm your heart.

  • Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede

    The gorgeous cover of THE MOST BEAUTIFUL WOMAN IN FLORANCE caught my eyes a couple of months ago and the book's description about the muse of Botticelli who inspired him to paint The Birth of Venus sounded very intriguing. I love reading historical fiction about real people and I was very happy when I got the chance to read this book. The Birth of Venus is a very famous painting, but I have to admit that Sandro Botticelli's life is not something that I had any knowledge about. However, that made

    The gorgeous cover of THE MOST BEAUTIFUL WOMAN IN FLORANCE caught my eyes a couple of months ago and the book's description about the muse of Botticelli who inspired him to paint The Birth of Venus sounded very intriguing. I love reading historical fiction about real people and I was very happy when I got the chance to read this book. The Birth of Venus is a very famous painting, but I have to admit that Sandro Botticelli's life is not something that I had any knowledge about. However, that made the book even more intriguing to read since through this book did I get a fictional glimpse into the painter's life which made me yearn to learn more about him.

  • Zoe

    This is an intriguing interpretation about the life of Simonetta Cattaneo, a young, intelligent girl who became known as the "Most Beautiful Woman of Florence" and who developed a close, intimate relationship with the famous Renaissance painter, Sandro Botticelli.

    It is a story about familial responsibilities, duty, strength, coming-of-age, friendship, art, passion, desire, loss and love.

    Simonetta was a feminist ahead of her time who understood quickly that her beauty was both a gift and a curse,

    This is an intriguing interpretation about the life of Simonetta Cattaneo, a young, intelligent girl who became known as the "Most Beautiful Woman of Florence" and who developed a close, intimate relationship with the famous Renaissance painter, Sandro Botticelli.

    It is a story about familial responsibilities, duty, strength, coming-of-age, friendship, art, passion, desire, loss and love.

    Simonetta was a feminist ahead of her time who understood quickly that her beauty was both a gift and a curse, and who ultimately longed and strived in her regrettably short life to be known and loved for her knowledge and mind instead.

    The prose is smooth and fluid, and the storyline takes us back to the mid-to-late 1400s to the city of Florence when politics, learning and the liberal arts were revered and who you knew was certainly more important than what you knew.

    This certainly is a well written, vivid, rich story, and even though there is not much known about Simonetta's life and the events that led up to Botticelli's immortalization of her in his famous painting, Palombo has done a remarkable job of taking those historical facts and surrounding them with fiction that is passionate, alluring and incredibly captivating.

    Thank you to NetGalley, especially St. Martin's Press, for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

    All my reviews can be found on my blog at

  • Erin

    Book hits stores on 25/04/17!

    Gosh, I just loved this story and all the characters. It makes me wish that I could just hope on a plane and head for Florence this minute! Alyssa Palombo is a new author to me, but her writing kept me glued to my seat and my heart swelled as she brought Simonetta Vespucci's story to life. In her author's note, Palombo explains that as an author she did have to flesh out Simonetta's s

    Book hits stores on 25/04/17!

    Gosh, I just loved this story and all the characters. It makes me wish that I could just hope on a plane and head for Florence this minute! Alyssa Palombo is a new author to me, but her writing kept me glued to my seat and my heart swelled as she brought Simonetta Vespucci's story to life. In her author's note, Palombo explains that as an author she did have to flesh out Simonetta's story because there was little more than a footnote of information available. Even if Botticelli and Simonetta were never lovers,I just couldn't get enough of Alyssa Palombos version of the story.

    If you enjoyed " The Birth of Venus" by Sarah Dunant, I highly recommend this book to you.

  • The Lit Bitch

    Last year I had the pleasure of being introduced to Alyssa Palombo’s debut novel, The Violinist of Venice, a love story about Antonio Vivaldi. I love how Palombo takes relatively well known and passionate artists (musicians and painters) and crafts a historical fiction novel.

    People like Antonio Vivaldi and in this book, Sandro Botticelli, aren’t characters that I would think of in history and decide to write a romantic novel about them which is what makes these books so unique to me.

    Botticelli w

    Last year I had the pleasure of being introduced to Alyssa Palombo’s debut novel, The Violinist of Venice, a love story about Antonio Vivaldi. I love how Palombo takes relatively well known and passionate artists (musicians and painters) and crafts a historical fiction novel.

    People like Antonio Vivaldi and in this book, Sandro Botticelli, aren’t characters that I would think of in history and decide to write a romantic novel about them which is what makes these books so unique to me.

    Botticelli was a famous Renaissance painter and it goes without saying that he was probably a very passionate person in order to create such stunning paintings. There is something about composers and painters that just screams ‘passion’ and romanticism so seeing Botticelli as a romantic individual was easy in this book. While I am not personally interested in Renaissance art, the romanticism surrounding the period and painter worked well in this book and made me enjoy reading it!

    Simonetta is a very powerful character. At times she was clearly nieve about life but she as smart and I thought the author did the character justice and created a balanced innocent but yet intelligent character. I also loved how the sexual tension and attraction built between Simonetta and Botticelli. It wasn’t like this all consuming attraction but something that steadily grew into something beautiful and I thought the author did a great job with that.

    One thing that stood out to me was how much I wanted to know more about Botticelli. I found myself Googling and researching his works and his life. I thought Palombo did a wonderful job creating a believable and plausible story for the characters.

    I felt like this book was a fairly fast read, but what took me so long to finish it was my research. I kept getting distracted by things I was reading about the characters on the internet. I thought Palombo did a fantastic job creating a realistic world and realistic characters who were interesting and genuine. I was so absorbed in learning more about the characters in real life which I felt like enriched the novel for me.

    The other thing I wanted to comment on was how beautiful the cover of this novel was. It hints at romanticism (which this book has in spades) and mystery. It’s eye catching with the vibrant colors and I immediately wanted to read it because it stood out. The cover did the story justice. It was a lyrical story that brought obscure historical figured to life in a colorful and illuminating way. I would highly encourage readers to check out the author’s historical notes at the end of the book as well….looks of wonderful info to be had there!

  • Carolyn

    Brilliant is about all I can say about this new novel, The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence expertly written by Alyssa Palombo.

    Set in 15th Century Italy we learn all about Simonetta Castaneo, the most beautiful woman in Florence, her life and tribulations, loves and losses and her life with her husband, Marco and what happens when she meets Sandro Botticelli a young painter who captures her heart and inner most desires.

    We learn what it would be like to be the most beautiful woman in Florence, to

    Brilliant is about all I can say about this new novel, The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence expertly written by Alyssa Palombo.

    Set in 15th Century Italy we learn all about Simonetta Castaneo, the most beautiful woman in Florence, her life and tribulations, loves and losses and her life with her husband, Marco and what happens when she meets Sandro Botticelli a young painter who captures her heart and inner most desires.

    We learn what it would be like to be the most beautiful woman in Florence, to be worshipped by all men who come across us and be struck by our beauty. How we wish!

    Can our beauty be captured forever?

    Read this outstanding new novel, The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence by Alyssa Palombo and find out.

    It never ceases to amaze me how this writer, Alyssa Palombo can recreate scenes from the past so we can picture moments in her books which capture our hearts and live on forever in her writing. Every scene is written with imagination and beauty.

    If you haven't read The Violinist of Venice, I suggest you do. Another masterpiece by Alyssa Palombo. Perhaps, you could combine the two and buy as a package.

    Thank you, Alyssa Palombo, Writer for another outstanding novel in the writing of The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence.

    You captured my heart once again!

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