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Saturday, July 18, 2015

My review of Daughters of Rome by Kate Quinn

About the book:

A.D. 69. Nero is dead.

The Roman Empire is up for the taking. With bloodshed spilling out of the palace and into the streets of Rome, chaos has become the status quo. The Year of Four Emperors will change everything—especially the lives of two sisters with a very personal stake in the outcome….

Elegant and ambitious, Cornelia embodies the essence of the perfect Roman wife. She lives to one day see her loyal husband as Emperor. Her sister, Marcella, is more withdrawn, content to witness history rather than make it. Even so, Marcella has her share of distinguished suitors, from a cutthroat contender for the throne to a politician’s son who swears that someday he will be Emperor.

But when a bloody coup turns their world upside down, Cornelia and Marcella—along with their cousins, one a collector of husbands and lovers, the other a horse-mad beauty with no interest in romance—must maneuver carefully just to stay alive. As Cornelia tries to pick up the pieces of her shattered dreams, Marcella discovers a hidden talent for influencing the most powerful men in Rome. In the end, though, there can only be one Emperor … and one Empress.

My review:

I love reading novels set in first century Rome. The culture of that day seems almost parallel to the 21st century. While it isn't the first book I've read about the Roman Empire, it's one of the better novels set during that time period. This novel had very realistic characters, and while there was some sexual tension at times, they fit the story and was not there to merely titillate the reader. It reminded me of how much I adore Francine Rivers's writing style and how much I enjoyed reading her "Mark of the Lion" series back in the mid 1990s.

The unique thing about this novel was that it took place during the year of the four emperors. I've read historical accounts of the ancient Roman Empire and some were set around 69 AD, but this is the first book I've read that fictionalized true life events. The perspectives shifted between four cousins, all women, who grew up together and were from prominent families. The politics of the time period were intriguing as were the parties (where people ate so much they had to throw up in order to indulge in more food,) chariot races and gambling, arranged marriages for political gain, and hostile takeovers by people craving power. I found it interesting how fickle the people of Rome were, but how they also had to shift alliances each time their was a new Emperor in Rome.

This author put and interesting fictional twist to this historical tale and suggested that a scheming woman may have been behind the changes in power. I found that intriguing, especially how in the end she was caught in a trap of her own making. That part of the theme made me think of monarchies in England and how people were often afraid for their lives when the king changed from one blood line to the next. Those were intriguing times as well.

I loved all of the characters in this novel and the tension in their relationships. I also loved how women had power, and at the same time, they were ruled by men. A woman's only hope for true happiness would be to have a good man in their life because an evil man could use and abuse them and other than possibly getting divorced, there wasn't much they could do to protect themselves. Anyway, I love this author's voice and style, I got a copy of Mistress of Rome, which is her first book, and plan to read that next. The back cover description sounds like my kind of story. 

Daughters of Rome was published by Berkley Books and released in 2011. 


Angela said...

Thanks for the review. I've never read a book set in that time period, but I'm looking to expand my literary horizons. I'll have to add that book to my VERY long to-read list.

Becky G said...

This sounds like a good read per the review, might have to add it to my list. I am reading the Alexandra's Order series by Emilia Rutigliano who now after reading this series has become one of my favorite authors. I recommend her and this series, is the site for it!

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