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The Door in the Wall Paperback – September 1, 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 249 pages
  • Publisher: Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers (September 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0865165335
  • ISBN-13: 978-0865165335
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,202,845 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This assiduously researched, intelligently written yet ultimately unsatisfying historical novel is set in 48 B.C., near the end of the long and bloody civil war between Pompey the Great and Julius Caesar. Marcus Caelius Rufus is a young Roman noble who at first sides with Caesar but becomes disenchanted after witnessing a massacre that he has commited. He feels compelled to compile a report of the internecine struggle so far, although he does not know who will read it, for he is uncertain which of the warriors he hopes will win. Not only Pompey and Caesar but all the major historical characters of the epoch are here: Cicero, Cato, Mark Antony and even Marcus Brutus (of "et tu" notoriety). Karo has fine credentials in writing about this period (her first novel, The Key , about the poet Catullus, involved many of the same people) and her brisk prose rings true. The protagonist's situation is also compelling, but after a while it becomes difficult to sympathize with the brutal and somewhat callous Caelius. Moreover, Karo seems more interested in her characters' public squabbles than in their internal lives. On the other hand, readers interested in the period will find this book more lively than the McCullough sagas currently on the market.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

In this fictional memoir of a real person, Marcus Caelius Rufus is presented as a spendthrift, womanizer, partygoer, and ambitious Roman politician. Neither romantic nor affectionate, Caelius yearns only for power; relationships with people are incidental. He associates himself with Julius Caesar's political ascendancy to reach his coveted goal of the praetorship, but it costs him. Caelius finds Caesar's cruelty to defeated enemies sickening. Worse, as the price of advancement, Caesar forces Caelius to submit to his sexual attentions. Jaro imaginatively fleshes out what is known of Caelius to create a flawed hero who is nevertheless sympathetic and noble. Readers with a taste for adventure and excitement will find her depiction of battle and political struggle exciting. However, Jaro doesn't attend to the homely details of ordinary Roman life. Such a tale of the downfall of ambition could be set in any age and place. Recommended for general fiction collections.
- James F. DeRoche, Alexandria, Va.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Ria Lihs on April 21, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Reading "The Door in the Wall" was a wonderful experience. Ms. Jaro's elegant prose transported me to ancient Rome. The characters came to life vividly, and I've never felt so connected to a main character in historical fiction. The book is beautifully researched; throughout it reads as a personal document by the main character, Marcus Caelius Rufus. My interest never flagged, and I'm on my second re-read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Suzanne Cross on September 6, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This has turned out to be one of the more interesting books on Caesar I've ever read, although a fictional account (and little can match the history itself for fascination). But this writers did a very good job in tracking Caesar's career the last 20 years of both his life and the Republic's; her narrator is Marcus Caelius Rufus who was, of course, the infamous lover of Clodia, accused of attempted murder, defended by Cicero. And involved in multiple aspects of the Civil War. As narrator, we see Caesar, Cicero, and others through Caelius (Cicero was a good friend and teacher and Caelius wrote him many notable letters in 50 when Cicero was governing Cilicia and Rome was falling apart).
That said, Jaro's writing is elegaic and (I think) quite good - she picks up her story while Caelius, having turned against Caesar in the Civil War, is waiting fatalistically to be overwhelmed by one of his armies and reviewing his past life to see why he fell in with this extraordinary character. Occasionally the tone dips a bit too much into modern self-analysis, but I read it with pleasure. I'm not too sure if I agree with her portrayal of Caesar in some details - his alleged bisexuality being one of them - but I think her portrait of the man himself is pretty fascinating. He feels very authentic.
That said, most of the books I've read which try to delve into Caesar's fictional personality fail miserably because Caesar is such a chameleon in history - they try to come down on one side or the other (devil-Caesar, noble Caesar) and go splat. Or, like Allen Massie's book, it's just a hodgepodge of his own writings and the character of the man himself never peeks out of the book.
So I'd give it a slightly cautious recommendation if you want to try a fictional work on the great man. There are those who love Caesar who will take issue with some of her conclusions, but much of the picture she paints of Caesar rings true, which is an accomplishment in itself.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 6, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The Door in the Wall proves that Gore Vidal hasn't cornered the market on fiction about ancient Rome. The character of Marcus Caelius Rufus, politician and rebel, is superbly and sympathetically drawn--the novel's supporting cast (Caesar, Catullus, Mark Antony, and Cicero) has been equally well brought to life. Jaro is erudite but never ponderous in her recreation of some of the seminal events in western history. She's also an elegant prose stylist, something one sees all too seldom these days.
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