Thursday, February 26, 2015

Review: Primavera

Mary Jane Beaufrand


Mary Jane Beaufrand
Little, Brown, March 2009

About the Book

The Italian Renaissance was a cultural explosion of art, architecture and learning, but it had a darker side. Two powerful families, the tyrannical Medici and their biggest rivals, the Pazzi, are tangled in a bloody struggle for ultimate power. Caught in the whirlwind is Flora, the last daughter of the Pazzi.

As her beautiful older sister is being painted by the famed artist Botticelli, Flora is dreading her fate. Destined for life in a convent, Flora is determined to take matters into her own hands, even as her world crumbles around her. When Flora decides to run away, she has no idea that the decision will save her life. As her family falls to their murderous enemy, Flora must find a new life and a new identity.

Inspired by actual events, Primavera is a dazzling coming of age story set during a time of beauty and wealth, ambition, rivalry, and brutality. Historical art references to Botticelli and his famous painting, La Primavera, give this book an appeal similar to Girl with a Pearl Earring.

My Review

The Italian Renaissance. Two powerful families are about to feud—the Medici and the Pazzi—and our heroine, Lorenza, nicknamed Flora, is soon to be caught in the middle.

Power. Wealth. Prestige. That’s what it comes down to for most of the men and women in both families. Flora, on the other hand is different. Perhaps it is those differences which serve to her advantage when the power struggle plays out disastrously for her family. She, in fact, saves the life of her family’s enemy. But while this act of kindness may protect her life in the moment, her entire family is at risk.

When the Medicis strike back, everything she’s known, everything she’s loved (as well as a few things she’s hated) will be stripped away. Does Flora have the strength, the courage to begin life anew? Is she as strong as her grandmother believes? Does she have anything to live for after all?

I loved this book. I found the setting fascinating, rich and deep and lustrous. I’m not that familiar with this period, generally speaking, and the details swept me away. Maybe that won’t be the case for other readers. But for me it was one of those books that was in the right place and the right time to completely capture my attention. Flora is a well-drawn character. She’s strong. She’s resourceful. She’s complex. I was completely taken in by her and her world.

This is Mary Jane Beaufrand’s first book.

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