This time I want to talk about a historical I read recently based on a real woman. The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence is a good read for those interested in 15th century Florence and the painter Botticelli. The story is about Simonetta, Botticelli’s muse and the woman who may have been his inspiration for Venus in his famous Birth of Venus painting. I couldn’t pass up the chance to read about Botticelli’s muse and a woman rumored to have been Giuliano Medici’s mistress. I’d never heard of Simonetta before and I love reading historical fiction about real people, especially well-researched stories. Plus the cover is gorgeous.
Big warning on this one: Simonetta’s story ends in tragedy. I don’t want to give spoilers, but if you only like happy endings this isn’t the book for you. However the ending added to the tragic romance aspect of the book in a way that tugged at my emotions. I appreciated that the author kept the tragedy true to life and didn’t trade it in for a happier ending. Out of everything about this book, the ending is what will stick with me.
The author included real historical events in the book to help tell Simonetta’s story as well as other historical figures outside of Botticelli. As a reader it helped me dive into the world of Florence and see the politics and culture of the day. At the end the author even included some information on her research and what she discovered about Simonetta. Did you know Botticelli had himself buried at Simonetta’s feet? Talk about romantic. Simonetta was also considered the most beautiful woman in Florence by the people, hence the book title. When she died, she was given an open casket at her funeral for people to gaze upon her beauty one last time.
While the cover says a story of Botticelli, he is more of a side character, one I wish I’d gotten to see and learn more about. My big issue with the book was I wanted to see a longer, more drawn out romance between Simonetta and Botticelli instead of them admiring each other from afar for so long. I wanted to see more of Botticelli and his story. I didn’t see nearly as much of him as I expected to. However even without him Simonetta’s story is an intriguing one. While I wouldn’t give this book five stars, it was still an interesting read. One that made me want to know more about Simonetta and Botticelli.