Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Daughters of Rome

I just finished Daughters of Rome by Kate Furnivall and I enjoyed most of it. It is A.D. 69 and Nero is Dead-it is The Year of Four Emperors that will change everything. The book centers on the Cornelii cousins, all named Cornelia. The eldest, Cornelia, is the perfect Roman wife; obedient, loyal and domestic. Her sister Marcella known as Cornelia secunda, is more withdrawn and loves to write histories. They have two cousins Lollia; she marries multiple times and was raised by her grandfather, who was a slave and is now very wealthy. Then there is Diana, a cousin that lives with her father who sculpts busts; she is obsessed with horses rather than men.

Right away the book is interesting, because you have 4 very different and complex characters. Suddenly Piso, Cornelia's husband is named heir, but not before Galba is hacked to death and the mob turns on them. The four cousins flee to the temple of the Vestal Virgins, only to find it abandoned. Piso is killed in front of them, and luckily the 4 girls survive. Otho is now Emperor, and Marcella finds herself speaking with him quite a bit about politics. Cornelia is now a widow, where once she was to be the Empress and First Lady of Rome. She lives with her brother and his wife, and also her sister Marcella because her husband is always gone. They live together quite unhappily, as the Rome they know around them changes. Marcella takes a hand in trying to make history, and ends up sharing military secrets that may or may not have led to the death of Otho. Vitellius is next and once again things change, Lollia weds another man loyal to the new Emperor, and they scramble to keep up.

You get to closely follow the 4 girls and their various lives as the events unfold in the book. There are quite scandalous parts in the book that are sometimes hard to skip, so I wouldn't read the book if that bothers you. Cornelia eventually remarries a former Praetorian Guard, the one who actually had saved their lives when her husband Piso was killed. They marry and live happily and have children together. It is happy to see her life unfold, because she had had 8 happy years with Piso, childless, before it was all taken away. Marcella is a bit more complex, because she meddles in history and tries to change things. She ends up being in a position she never wanted; First Lady of Rome and Empress to a mad and abusive husband. She is now trapped, never to live the life she wanted again. Lollia is kind of entertaining, but also comes off as a ditzy bimbo. She marries 7 times for her grandfather, while keeping a slave as her lover. She has a daughter but doesn't always pay attention to her. Diana is related to the Huntress, because all she cares about are her horses and the races.

Vespasian comes to rule for about 10 years, and it is just what the people needed, some peace. Rome had always ruled as a Republic, so it was shocking when the Empire went up for grabs a few times to any usurper that had an army and a chance. Rome was never to be quite the same again after the Year of the Four Emperors. The book is exciting because of all the events, although it can be bloody. I try not to divulge too much when writing my reviews, but I'm sure that sometimes I give plots away. It is always different though to actually read the book. I like the author, but I would have left out most of the sexual scenes because they aren't necessary to the plot. Yes, we know it is happening, but we don't need to read about it. Not my favorite book of all time, but pretty good.

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