January 12, 2013

Daughters of Rome by Kate Quinn

I found this book pretty entertaining. I haven't read any of Quinn's other works, but based on this one, I probably will. And since it's considered the prequel to the others, it's as good as any to start with.

Cornelia, Marcella, Lollia and Diana are cousins in a turbulent time. Brought up together closely, they have been there through marriages (mostly Lollia's) and the horrific events of the upheaval in Rome as it goes through four emperors in a year. Cornelia just had dreams of being the perfect wife until that hope is dashed away from her. Marcelle wants to be left to her histories, until even that isn't enough excitement for her. Lollia enjoys her dalliances, but has a good heart, and goes through her many marriages as a result. And Diana is only concerned with her horses and chariot racing and can't be convinced to care for anything otherwise. With war going on, these seem like small matters, but to the women, they have to struggle to hold on to what ever kind of life they can.

There were a lot of characters in this book. So much that it was hard to keep track of them once in awhile. Eventually you can get it sorted out, but it does take some time. Cornelia, I started out disliking her to liking her and Marcella went the opposite. In fact, I'm not sure what happened to Marcella, it's like she became a completely different person with the turn of a page. Same with one of the men she was associated with. Lollia I found amusing and endearing and really enjoyed her character. She knew how to have a good time! And Diana, I didn't care for either way. She could have been written out of the story and I wouldn't have noticed.

The plot was mostly interesting. A lot of intrigue and some romance, and a smattering of adventure. It told a lot of stories so it was jumpy, but that didn't bother me too much. I should say that if you're looking for an accurate accounting of history, this probably isn't it. The base facts are true (and at the end she explains why she added certain things) but even the voice of her characters is really modern. No women would have spoke and I suspect act like they did in the book in real life. Otherwise there is a little violence and a little sex in the book, but nothing that overwhelms it. The main focus is the four cousins and their adventures.

I look forward to reading the other books in this series. They are well written and fun to read. And this one was a good accompaniment to a cold winters day and fireside couch.

Daughters of Rome
Copyright 2011
367 pages

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