I love the crisp, clean pages & cover of a new book but the reality is that the best books are the worn ones. The ones who's covers are a little torn, the edges are a little worn & the corners show the creases from where they have been dog eared to act as a poor mans bookmark. A worn book is the best because that means it was to good to put down so it was shoved into purses, book bags & suitcases. It was so captivating that it couldn't be left to wait in pristine condition on the bed side table but instead it traveled with its drooling audience everywhere so that they could slip in a few pages in the few down minutes the reader could grasp here-and-there. It was read on subways, on lunch breaks & in bed at night until the wee morning hours when the reader finally give in on the fight against sleep. So please, do judge a book by its cover because a good worn one proved that it was so good it could never be left behind... and thats a book worth investing your imagination in.
It is not a typical book I would pick up. Inside my head I have quite a crazy imagination so I usually always tend towards more fantasy types like Harry Potter & Lord of the Rings. I picked up the book though because while I was traveling in Italy & I wanted a story that took place in one of the cities I was visiting. The last time I was in Italy I was reading "Angels & Demons" & it made visiting Rome & the Vatican so, SO cool because it made the book so real & come to life in a whole new way for me. It made it feel like I shared a personal connection with the characters because when a certain palazzo or fresco was described I knew exactly where it was & what it looked like!
So I did what any person in my generation would do when they want to find something random, I googled it! I asked the all knowing Google "what is the best book based in Italy" and Sarah Dunant's name popped up! After reading synopsis & reviews I was sold on this book. This novel is based in Florence during the Renaissance and is told from the voice of the main character Alessandra who we meet at the age of fourteen & follow through out much of her life. The story is based around the fact that Alessandra has the talent & the heart to be an artist but in that day & age it was not acceptable at all for women to have a life in art.
For me this story carried two major messages. The first was one of historic value. I learned so much about the culture of Italy in that time. How the artwork & the cathedrals carried such significance & value for the people. It made walking into the Duomo in the heart of Florence absolutely astounding! Not only was some of the most important artwork of the Renaissance introduced & described in such a beautiful way but it came to life for me. Also a big part of the story that she weaved in in such an interesting way was the fall of the Medicis reign which was so interesting. The historical info I learned from this book was so interesting coming from someone who does not usually read historical novels. Secondly this story carried such a message of forgiveness, especially towards those who are closes to us... family. Not only is the story about forgiveness but it also oozes of the message of persistence in our dreams. We are given dreams & passions for a reason, so despite the odds never give up... Alessandra never did.
All-in-all this book was beautifully written, made reading about history fun & left me smiling & inspired. I give it two thumbs up & if you are traveling too Italy soon, it is a must read.