Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Guest Post - Alyssa Polombo + a Giveaway

Happy Book Birthday to Alyssa Polombo! Her latest, The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence: A Story of Botticelli officially hits shelves today and I am pleased as punch to be able to welcome her to the blog today!

I am giving away a copy of The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence as well, so be sure to read through to the end to enter to win.

Before I hand things over to Alyssa, though, here's a bit about the book to whet your appetite:

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 glittering circle of politicians, poets, artists, and philosophers. The men of Florence—most notably the rakish Giuliano de’ Medici—become enthralled with her beauty. That she is educated and an ardent reader of poetry makes her more desirable and fashionable still. But it is her acquaintance with a young painter, Sandro Botticelli, which strikes her heart most. Botticelli immediately invites Simonetta, newly proclaimed the most beautiful woman in Florence, to pose for him. As Simonetta learns to navigate her marriage, her place in Florentine society, and the politics of beauty and desire, she and Botticelli develop a passionate intimacy, one that leads to her immortalization in his masterpiece, The Birth of Venus.

Alyssa Palombo’s The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence vividly captures the dangerous allure of the artist and muse bond with candor and unforgettable passion.

Historical fiction fans, this should definitely be your next read!

And now over to Alyssa!

As you can probably tell, based on the settings of my first two novels, I really love Italy. This love, for me, comes from a few different places, because truthfully I loved Italy way before I ever went there.

Based on my last name, I’m sure it’s no surprise that I am of Italian descent myself. I don’t know too much about the Italian side of my family – they didn’t talk much about their roots – but I know we are from northern Italy somewhere and that my great-grandparents came to the US through Ellis Island before WWII. So certainly a part of my interest in Italy comes in part from the fact that I have roots there, and that its history is my heritage. I keep meaning to start a genealogy project of some kind to learn more about my Italian ancestry – someday soon I will make the time!

Obviously, I’ve always had an interest in history, and my interest in Italian history specifically came about in my later teens. I had read all about the Tudors by then – so much that I started to get kind of sick of them – and so began reading a lot of historical fiction set in other eras. A few books set in Italy during different periods really sealed the deal for me, and from there I sought out nonfiction about different periods and historical figures in Italian history. What I found is that Italian history – especially of the Renaissance period – is absolutely fascinating. It’s peopled with ruthless politicians like Lorenzo de’ Medici, Niccolo Machiavelli, and Rodrigo and Cesare Borgia; the great artistic masters like da Vinci, Michelangelo, Botticelli, and Raphael; and exceptional and powerful women like Caterina Sforza and Isabella d’Este. There’s more sex and scandal and violence to be found than in Game of Thrones. I was completely engrossed in the history I was reading, and found it to be both informative and entertaining.

In addition, as a musician – I did a music minor in college and focused on classical voice – many of my favorite composers are Italian, and indeed opera was created by the Italians. This gave me another avenue through which to explore Italy’s history and legacy.

Then, of course, I started writing The Violinist of Venice and did a lot of research into 18th century Venice and composer Antonio Vivaldi, and Italian Baroque music more broadly. This is a period of history I didn’t know too much about prior to doing research for the novel, and I found Venice to be a place that completely captured my imagination.

It wasn’t until I was between the second and third drafts of The Violinist of Venice that I finally went to Italy, the country I’d been dreaming about for years by that time. I went to Venice, of course, to gather information for the novel, but on that same trip I also went to Florence and Rome as well. I’ve been back to both Venice and Florence since – the former simply because it is my absolute favorite place in the world, and the latter to do research for The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence – and I am still completely enamored of Italy. I love the language – I know enough to make my way around, order food, and also to have a very operatic and dramatic lovers’ quarrel if need be – I love the people, I love the landscape and the way each city and region is so individual and unique, I love the architecture, and of course I love the food and wine. But I also really love that Italy is a country with such a deep appreciation for its history, and for its exceptional artistic legacy.

Modern-day Italy is certainly a country with many problems, as in truth is any nation. Yet it is very much a place that inspires me and that I feel a deep connection to, and I am proud to be Italian myself. 

About the author: ALYSSA PALOMBO is also the author of The Violinist of Venice. She has published short fiction pieces in Black Lantern Magazine and The Great Lakes Review. She is a recent graduate of Canisius College with degrees in English and creative writing, respectively. A passionate music lover, she is a classically trained musician as well as a big fan of heavy metal. The Violinist of Venice is her first novel. She lives in Buffalo, New York.

For more on Alyssa Polombo and her work you can visit her website here. You can also follow her on Twitter.

Huge thanks to Alyssa for being here today and to the publicist for setting up this guest post!

The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence is out on shelves now.

And now for the giveaway: to enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter before Monday, May 8. Open US only.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


traveler said...

Thanks for this fascinating historical which sounds wonderful. I would enjoy this treasure of a book greatly.

Anita Yancey said...

I really enjoy historical novels, and this one sounds really good. I haven't read any books by this author, so I'm looking forward to it. Thanks for this chance.

Soft Fuzzy Sweater said...

"Simonetta Vespucci" The World's First Supermodel, undisputed. I first heard of her in art history class 40 years ago. She was Venus in "The Birth of" She was Spring.
in "Printemp". If Boticelli could love a woman, it would have to be her. I want to win book because I been obsessed with her and my library has not acquired this book! annfesATyahooDOTcom Thank you.

Heather Marocco said...

thanks for the chance