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Daughters of Rome (The Empress of Rome Book 2) Kindle Edition
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|Length: 418 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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- Book 2 of 4 in The Empress of Rome
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Customers who bought this item also bought
“A soap opera of biblical proportions...[Quinn] juggles protagonists with ease and nicely traces the evolution of Marcella—her most compelling character—from innocuous historian to manipulator. Readers will become thoroughly immersed in this chaotic period of Roman history.”—Publishers Weekly
“A fascinating view of four women during the year of the four emperors...Regardless of whether you already have an interest in Roman history, Daughters of Rome will fascinate you from beginning to end.”—Book Loons
“The two sisters are fascinating protagonists...Ancient historical fiction fans will enjoy this intriguing look at the disorderly first year after Nero’s death.”—Midwest Book Review
About the Author
- Publication Date : April 5, 2011
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print Length : 418 pages
- File Size : 2091 KB
- Language: : English
- Publisher : Berkley; Original Edition (April 5, 2011)
- ASIN : B0049U4HT2
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Enhanced Typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #60,558 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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'Daughters of Rome' tells the story of the Year of the Four Emperors (69 AD) from the viewpoint of the four Corneliae women -- officially Cornelia Prima, Secunda, Tertia, and Quarta, but informally Cornelia, Marcella, Lollia, and Diana. Cornelia is married to Piso, a Senator that all of Rome assumes will be tapped as heir to the imperial throne -- and she's excited about that. She has her eye on being Empress, but her joy in that possibility is troubled by her apparent inability to conceive a child, even after 8 years of marriage. Marcella, Cornelia's younger sister, is stuck in a completely loveless marriage with Lucius Aelius Lamia, a politician who spends most of his time abroad. Marcella fills her hours with writing histories of Rome, much to the dismay of her relatives. Their cousin Lollia is on her third husband at the beginning of the book, as her slave-born grandfather whirls her around for political advantage. She bears up cheerfully, however, taking lovers as it suits her and generally making the best of circumstances. Diana, another cousin and youngest of the four, has no time for men or politics; she's horse-mad and has no thoughts for anything but the chariot races and the victory of her precious Reds. They're four completely different women, but devoted to each other.
The book whirls through the Four Emperors, but keeps its focus tightly on the four women. We see the change from Galba to Otho to Vitellius to Vespasian through their eyes, and even if you know the history of the politics, the twists and turns of the book remain surprising, because it's not really about the political facts -- it's entirely about the four female lives. Of the four, only Cornelia and Marcella are real historical characters (though all of Lollia's husbands were real, and Diana serves as a perfect representative for all Romans who were obsessed with the races), and Cornelia doesn't make much of a mark on history, disappearing into domestic obscurity. Quinn grafts historical fact and imaginative speculation together beautifully, immersing the reader in life in Imperial Rome.
What I really enjoyed about this book was the way that Quinn subverted my expectations about the characters. When I began, I thought I knew who our protagonist was. Among the prude, the flibbertigibbet, and the sports fan, of course my sympathies would lie with the writer -- with clever, subtle Marcella. After all, that's the sort of character who's usually the reader avatar in any historical novel. Just ask any romance fan -- we like bluestockings, women who challenge ideas about literacy and intelligence. That's who we're supposed to glom onto.
Except, in 'Daughters of Rome', the characters are all dynamic, and wonderfully so. The turmoil of the year transforms Cornelia from a straight-laced, ice-cold matron to a warm, exuberant woman. Lollia, troubled when life becomes too serious for her liking, learns to value real love and her family over fleeting pleasures and casual affairs. Even Diana, who is the flattest of the four characters (Marcella at one point thinks of her as the least interesting girl in Rome, and I'm not sure she'd be wrong), grows into herself by the end, proving her worth and demonstrating that she's not quite as thick as everyone assumes. Marcella, though, becomes so much less sympathetic as the book goes on -- and I find that fascinating. She's smug and secretive, and as a reader, you share Cornelia's and Lollia's frustration with her increasing self-absorption. It's hard to feel sorry for her at the end (and it took me a while to realize just who she was and what would become of her, since Quinn changes her name from the historical record), because she brings it entirely on herself with her scheming.
'Daughters of Rome' is thoroughly enjoyable historical fiction, especially for anyone looking for something a little non-standard within that genre. The turmoil of this time period is prime fodder for political and personal intrigues, and Quinn plays them to the hilt. Highly recommended.
Top reviews from other countries
But what makes this book stand out is the characters.
The complexity of the character's in Daughters of Rome was really great. In the author's earlier book Mistress of Rome, in spite of the male narrators being convincingly flawed and thoroughly likable anyway, female main characters could feel a bit black and white. Who's ever met anyone quite as egocentric, uncaring and incapable of feeling others pain as Lepida?Particularly with her apparently lucky life circumstances and happy life before the book.
In this book, on the other hand, the main characters Cornelia, Marcella and Lollia are all vividly drawn ,thoroughly believable and never annoying.Supporting characters are mostly the same and Galba, Otho and Vitellius, the first three emperors of the year are all portrayed originally enough to make them interesting. And whilst they might fit the "four devoted sisters" prototype(in spite of not all being sisters) the main character's relationships with each other are not idealised. They frequently have rather nasty, judgemental thoughts about each other.Most impotantly, the ending is NOT what you would expect of that type of book. In fact, I really recommend you don't read this before you do Mistress of Rome because without knowing what happens in that book, the ending to this will not make you happy.
One of the best things about Daughters of Rome was that when one of the characters does something that makes you dislike her you actuaully understand why-it all makes sense in terms of the values she was raised with or something unsatisfactory in her life. This is particularly true for Marcella-I thought the author did a very good job of explaining why she ends up acting in something of a villain role.
In spite of all this,there were still some things I didn't like about this book. First, i agree with other reviews that Diana was a bit of a letdown compared to the other three narrators. I would say the book would do better without her except that she is very important to the "Marcella" plotline, both in terms of Marcella's development and changes and to her eventual conclusion , though in a way that makes me sympathise with Marcella even when I don't think I'm supposed to. Lyn ap Caradoc, the major character in the "Diana" plotline, was rather too similar to Arius in Mistress of Rome in lifestory, if not in personality.
and then there was the role of Domitian in this book. Don't get me wrong, his early character here is fascinating and the scenes in which he appars are some of the best, although I'm not sure how they'd read to someone who hdn't read the first book. It's just that I'd been hoping we'd find out more about his relationships with his father and brother which if you read Suetonius, are really intersting and there was very little on this. You can actually find out more about his older brother Titus by reading Mistress of Rome than this one. Domitian's father Emperor Vespasian was a "wit" who used most of his jokes to make fun of Domitian in public, but here he is portrayed mostly positively. In the end, there isn't much choice from this book other than to say Domitian must be "naturally evil", since there is no explanation for his twisted behaviour and I always think that makes the least intersting baddies.
But I still think that Daughters of Rome is the one of the most intersting historical fiction books you're ever likely to read.
I read this book first of the three, and for me the other two books (Mistress of Rome and Empress of Rome) are a cut above. I couldn't put those two down and would love a fourth one to appear. Personally, I'd recommend reading this one first as it sets the scene for the others and some of the characters reappear later.
Kate Quinn's first book was great and this one is a good tale but wasn't a patch on the first.
If you enjoy historical fiction, and this is definitely fiction, give this a go it's a good holiday read to get you through a week by the beach.
I enjoyed it and I think if you're not the kind of person who moans about the lack of accuracy in historical FICTION (I'd like to mention I'm a classics student) you will too.