The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant – In a convent a nun dies of a supposed tumour while the fear of plague opens the door to a mystery par excellence.
We all have choices to make, for 15-year-old tom boy Alessandra, the daughter of a rich Florence cloth merchant the choice is between marriage and convent. However, as if often the case the choice and consequences aren’t quite as simple as first they might appear.
It is Florence at the end of the 15th century and civil unrest simmers between those who are stirred by the words of the fundamentalist monk Savonarola and those whose wealth has always bought them favour and power under the Medici family. Religion and philosophy spa for souls, money and piety vie for hearts and the past and future lay claim to minds as death and murder fill the air. Alessandra is in love but not with the man she is to marry, he too is in love, but not with her, but that is hardly unusual for a marriage of the time. Meanwhile the painting of the Cecchi family chapel continues by a new and young renaissance artist and throughout Florence perception becomes more important than reality, but then reality has become so messy. A shift in time and place and reality returns, the reality of the cost and price of love with more than a touch of déjà vu.
(p.s. there are some sexual scenes and some language which might cause offence in this book, so don’t say you weren’t warned if you prefer to avoid books which contain them.)
The House of Sleep by Jonathan Coe – Daughter told me I had to listen to this one it couldn’t wait for me to read her copy so I listened. Four; once students who were housed in the university accommodation in Ashdown, a huge grey and imposing cliff top house; are drawn together years later when the house becomes a private sleep clinic.
“To sleep, perchance to dream-
ay, there’s the rub.”
William Shakespeare – Hamlet
Indeed there is the rub, to sleep or not, to dream or not – a book, obsessions, asleep, awake, jelly babies and footnotes. Coe, in my view, is a master of penmanship one minute you squirm the next you smile, he weaves the fine silken threads of the characters into a splendid tapestry of vivid colours and subtle hues. Of course there will be those, for there always are, who say that Coe is too clever for his own good but for me that is what makes his books so re-readable there always seems to be something else to happen upon. I think it is long past time I re-read all his other books.
The Winter Seas by Susanna Kearsley – The least said about this one the better, just not my cup of tea I guess. The characters where flat, the plot iffy at best and just way too predictable. You, of course might think differently.
The Fallen Angel by David Hewson – An accidental death that is no accident seems such a cliché way start to any book, even more so when it is the 9th book in a series about a detective, the detective in question being Nic Costa. However, I for one quickly forgave the somewhat tired start as the story is gripping as we travel through Rome, secrets of the Vatican and urge Nic and Gianni Peroni, his partner, ever onward to discover the mystery of the Gabriel’s, first class!