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Household Gods Mass Market Paperback – July 15, 2000

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Fantasy (July 15, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812564669
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812564662
  • Product Dimensions: 4.3 x 1.4 x 6.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (106 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #992,484 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The standard time-travel plot turns on what might be changed by the futuristic know-how of an intrepid time traveler--typically a mechanically-minded man who "invents" modern weapons, medical technology, and so on. In Household Gods, Tarr and Turtledove make their time traveler a 1990s Los Angeles lawyer with no special technical or historical knowledge.

Nicole Gunther-Perrin is a single mother of two. Today her daycare provider's quitting. At the office, her male colleague has made partner and she hasn't. The kids get sick, the microwave dies, and her ex goes on vacation with his girlfriend. Staring at a votive plaque of Liber and Libera, Roman household gods, Nicole falls asleep wishing she lived in the past, surely a better and easier time. She awakens in second-century Carnuntum, a town near the Roman Empire's borders. Death, disease, and dirt are commonplace. Slavery and corporal punishment are facts of life, and war, pillage, and rape are constant threats. Mere survival is hard work. Though Nicole adapts and even enjoys some of her experience, she longs to return to her own time. The problems she left behind no longer seem unconquerable.

Tarr and Turtledove know their history and bring the reader into a past as vividly real as Nicole's Los Angeles. They create genuine, sympathetic characters whose thoughts and feelings are true to their era and deliver a satisfying conclusion. Household Gods should be on the shelf next to L. Sprague de Camp's Lest Darkness Fall and John Maddox Roberts's SPQR mysteries. --Nona Vero --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Historical fantasists Tarr and Turtledove rework The Wizard of Oz in this absorbing new collaboration. Nicole Gunther-Perrin, their L.A. '90s version of Dorothy, is a 30-ish attorney trapped in a single mom's nightmare. Her well-to-do, deadbeat ex-husband is frolicking with a bosomy blonde. Her baby-sitter abruptly decides to move back to Mexico. A youngerAmale!Acolleague gets the partnership she's been thirsting after. The kids throw up in the car. The microwave gives up the ghost... and Nicole, praying for a simpler life, collapses. She wakes up in the body of a widowed tavernkeeper in 2nd-century Carnuntum, a Danube-side outpost of the Roman Empire. Life is simplerAbut even more miserable: battling filth, lice, lead poisoning, dysentery, plague, starvation and barbarians, Nicole learns that the mangy lions in Carnuntum's arena eat real people, and she is raped by one of the armor-clattering Roman soldiers who beat back the ravaging Germans. Then Titus Calidius Severus, a reeking workman with a tender, generous heart, thaws Nicole's brittle spirit and helps her share the basic happiness that keeps the everyday Romans around her going. Nicole also abandons some of her liberal sacred cows for solid Roman common sense: a swat on the bottom, she learns, does wonders for pre-teen rebellion that futile attempts at reasoning cannot. Once Nicole whirls back to present-day Los Angeles, she's more grown-up, far better able to cope with her life because she now understands the people around her and cares about them more. Drawing on a wealth of fascinating historical material and fleshing it out with snappy dialogue, superb characterizations and a genuinely appealing heroine, Tarr and Turtledove genially prove how much fun it can be to go back to OzAand even better, that there's no place like home. (Sept.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

This book is one of the best reading experiences I ever had!
Michele Lyons
I never found the character of Nicole to be hateful or annoying, however, I was just annoyed with the writers.
J. Fuchs
This is a long book, too long (about 600 pages), but it is useful for those interested in history.
R. Davies

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Maddi Hausmann Sojourner on December 12, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Harry Turtledove and Judith Tarr team up to write a historical novel with an overlay of time-travel atop it. Late 20th century Los Angeles lawyer Nicole Gunther-Perrin is stressed, stressed, stressed. She's a divorced mom of young children, her ex traded her in for a younger model, her babysitter quits with no notice, and she's been passed over for partnership in her law firm while a male colleague gets credit for her work. The firm's senior partner hits on her, then tells her she won't succeed if she's uncooperative. In short, she is having the Day From Hell.
She's also a very unsympathetic character. She shows little concern with her own children. She's indifferent to why her sitter quit (sitter's mother in Mexico is sick). She's resentful toward those who succeed, and fails to see how her attitude and reactions affect how those around her will treat her. She's a bigot, generalizing about whole classes of people based on the actions of a few.
After the Day from Hell, Nicole makes a plea to a plaque of two Roman "Household Gods" (smaller deities who helped with more trivial matters). Liber and Libera haven't been worshipped in more than a thousand years, so they honor her request to send her "to a simpler time." And then Turtledove and Tarr toss her into 2nd century Carnuntum, frontier Roman Empire. This city is near the Danube river (near present day Vienna), but far from Imperial Rome's center. Her attitudes run smack into her new reality. Won't drink? Surprise: you own a tavern! And a slave to run it! Oh, and she's a part-time prostitute, and you get to keep the money! And your kids ignore your requests unless you spank them!
Any chance of returning home? No way. Everyone's petitioning the gods here, the line is always busy.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Karin W. on August 23, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Nicole is an attorney in modern-day LA who suffers a meltdown on a Day from Hell, wishes herself in a simpler time... and wakes up in the body of Umma, a 2nd-century innkeeper in the Roman colony of Carnuntum, near present-day Vienna.
But of course, a woman's life on the Roman frontier makes her Day from Hell seem pretty darn decadent... _Household Gods_ is a meticulously researched, gritty, compelling book.
Talk about pulling no punches-- the 2nd-century comes alive with stenches, lice, prejudice, plague, war, and some vividly imagined characters. I shudder to think about how much research went into the painstaking depiction of everyday life in the second century AD. Definitely not a fluffy read, but one of the best books I've read so far this year.
Like some of the other reviewers, I would have liked a bit more closure on Umma's fate, and perhaps have Nicole not *quite* as ignorant of the past as she was (though I know plenty of people who don't know much about history and don't care).
But whenever I was forced to put the book down, I found myself eager to pick it up again and find out what happened next, which is something that I can't say for most of the books I read.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Glenn H. Reynolds on October 11, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This is basically a coming-of-age novel, even though its main character is already of adult years. But despite her age, she's basically a spoiled child: self-centered, judgmental, irresponsible, and largely ignorant of the world. This has one major flaw: she's so damned unlikeable that I found it hared to really get into the book for the first couple of hundred pages. Perhaps the authors were a bit heavy handed in their portrayal, though I've certainly known women lawyers like this character. At any rate, as she begins to learn from her experiences, and as new characters are introduced, the story gets steadily better. I enjoyed it, and was sorry when it was over.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By J. Perkins on October 26, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Yes, Nicole is a neurotic, hateful, selfish, woman who takes everything personally and assumes the worst. And did I say self-righteous, too? That's the point of it. It contributes to the story. I couldn't stand her either! But when she wants to get away, part of the reason she gets sent to Roman times by Liber and Libera is so she WAKES UP and grows some awareness that the world doesn't revolve around her.

Bit by bit, simply because of the circumstances and the people, she becomes more cognizant of her shortcomings in the way she has always thought and made assumptions. And her transformation is very realistic and commendable as the novel progresses.

Because ironically enough, you start to wonder if YOU could hack that stuff she's going through. Of course she didn't have a lot of choice, unless she wanted to simply commit suicide, but compared to other go-back-in history stories (medieval england couldn't have been half so difficult as ancient rome!), she faced some pretty nasty things.

Suddenly, between your appreciation for what she's dealing with, and the contemplation of those circumstances and comparisons that contribute to her becoming a different person, you come to appreciate her and admire her for her stamina, the events that give her cause to consider a different behavioral response, and what she notices as a result of it.

She comes to see herself as we see her in the beginning. After a while in ancient Roman times, she gets it. And she takes it back with her. And her life is very different.

I recommend the book. Understand there's a reason why she's been created as she is and keep reading. Try not to condemn her for the way she's been written - after all, why exemplify the very charachteristics that you don't like in the protagonist?
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More About the Author

My first novel, The Isle of Glass, appeared in 1985, and eventually won the Crawford Award, as well as being a finalist for the Locus Award for Best First Novel. My YA time-travel science fiction/fantasy/historical novel, Living in Threes, appeared as an ebook from Book View Café in 2012, and is now in print. My new novel, a space opera, will be published by Book View Cafe in 2015. In between, I've written historicals and historical fantasies and epic fantasies, some of which have been reborn as ebooks from Book View Café. Various of my novels have been finalists for the World Fantasy Award and the Locus Award, and I've had short stories reprinted in Year's Best anthologies and collections of classic fantasy, science fiction, and alternate history. I live in Arizona with an assortment of cats, two dogs, and a herd of Lipizzan horses.

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