Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Mistress of Rome

When I borrowed this book from the State Library of Tasmania, I must admit that I was rather sceptical as to the writing style and genre.  For those who can’t read between the lines...is it “bloke’s book” with action, blood, suspense and intrigue.  Or “chick’s book” full of florid details on the love lives of the two main female characters (Thea and Lepida) who want the barbaric gladiator (Arius) as a lover.  Thea wants Arius for love, whereas Lepida wants him as another one of her trophies.
As the story unflolds these two women cross paths many times and each time they meet there is a shifting of power and status.
Here is a review from GoodReads:
First century Rome: a world of depravity, blood, and secrets. The enigmatic Emperor Domitian watches over all, fearing murder from every side . . . except from the woman who fascinates him most.
Thea is a slave girl from Judaea; musical, wary, and passionate. Purchased as a toy for the spiteful heiress Lepida Pollia, Thea and her mistress will become rivals for the love of Arius the Barbarian, Rome’s newest and most savage gladiator. His love brings Thea the first happiness of her life – quickly ended when a jealous Lepida tears them apart.
As Lepida goes on to wreak havoc in the life of a new husband and his family, Thea remakes herself as a polished singer for Rome’s aristocrats. Unwittingly, she attracts another admirer in the charismatic Emperor of Rome. But Domitian’s games have a darker side, and Thea finds herself fighting for both soul and sanity. Many have tried to destroy the Emperor: a vengeful gladiator, an upright senator, a tormented soldier, a streetwise child, a Vestal Virgin. But in the end, the life of the brilliant and ruthless Domitian lies in the hands of one woman: a slave girl who has come to be called the Mistress of Rome . . .
Based on the life and death of one of Rome’s most depraved Emperors.
So, what did I think?  I thoroughly enjoyed the book.  At times it the plot was contrived and predictable; however, there was enough suspense and intrigue to keep me engaged and keen to complete the book.  This is a good recommendation, as I will not read a book that doesn’t keep me enthralled or cognitively engaged.

And the verdict on “bloke’s book” or “chick’s book”?  It is a well crafted book that either gender will find enjoyable.  If you are into historical fiction, then I am sure that you will enjoy Kate Quinn's Mistress of Rome.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Great Expectations...

One of my favourite descriptive pieces in a book is from Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.
(I read it again on my holiday in Holland.)
It is an excerpt from the book where Pip is describing the scene he finds in Miss Haversham's house when he firsts visits:

"The most prominent object was a long table with a tablecloth spread on it, as if a feast had been in preparation when the house and the clocks all stopped together. An ├ępergne or centre-piece of some kind was in the middle of this cloth; it was so heavily overhung with cobwebs that its form was quite undistinguishable; and, as I looked along the yellow expanse out of which I remember its seeming to grow, like a black fungus, I saw speckled-legged spiders with blotchy bodies running home to it, and running out from it, as if some circumstance of the greatest public importance has just transpired in the spider community.
I heard the mice too, rattling behind the panels, as if the same occurrence were important to their interests. But the black beetles took no notice of the agitation, and groped about the hearth in a ponderous elderly way, as if they were short-sighted and hard of hearing, and not on terms with one another."

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


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