Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Review: Mistress Of Rome by Kate Quinn

Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Headline, 2010


Big, bold and beautiful.........."a vivid, richly imagined saga of ancient Rome from a masterful new voice in historical fiction."

For once the blurbs aren't exaggerating. Kate Quinn's novel of Ancient Rome is like a giant carnival of sight and sound that sweeps you into its midst and won't let you go until it's over. I haven't read anything so exuberant for a long time and I loved it!

It's the vividly portrayed characters that bring the book alive . Each one with a role depicting a person familiar in Roman society and it's through their daily activities and their relationships with each other that the reader gains insight into what life in Rome was like in the first century AD.

Thea - a young Jewish girl, survivor of a massacre of her people and sold into slavery. Outwardly quiet and obedient her inner thoughts keep her defiantly strong and she has her own small ways at getting her revenge on her mistress.....
Lepida Pollia........the same age as Thea and the nastiest little madam you can imagine.

The heroine and the anti-heroine .......the one you love and one you hate. And of course there is a hero and the man they both fancy.
Arius the Barbarian........the greatest gladiator of all. Share his world and you have a front row seat at the Colisseum to view the horror and barbaric cruelty of the fights in 'blood n guts' detail.

The abusive Emperor Domitian, his niece the gentle Vestal Virgin Julia, the noble Marcus and his military son Paulinus.............and many more.

Several of the characters have a voice in telling the story but most of the time it alternates between Thea and Lepida and I really liked the changing points of view - not only does it make it more interesting but sharing the thoughts and feelings of people draws me closer to the characters on an emotional level. I also thought the use of modern expressions of speech had the same affect - it's very easy to relate to the picture of  'Lepida swanning around the place'.
There weren't many emotions I didn't experience reading this story - it is the traditional rollercoaster ride from the lows of horror, tragedy and sorrow to the exhiliarating heights of personal victory and the joy of a beautiful love story.

Wonderful storytelling - highly recommended.

Historical Tapestry ABC Challenge

L is for Lepida Pollia


  1. I liked the alternating points of view as well and thought that it added an additional dimension to the story.

  2. Fun! I'd wondered about this book so am glad to hear what you thought of it. Thanks for the recommend!

  3. It sounds just amazing, sure one I want to read one day

  4. Daphne - I agree!

    Carrie & Blodeuedd - I'm sure you'll love it.

  5. Awesome review!! I'm so glad I have this one to read! I love a story with tons of characters like this :)

  6. I've been iffy on whether to pick this one up--wasn't sure if it would appeal to me. But your review is nudging me toward seeking it out--thanks!