Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Received from Publisher for Review
“A.D. 69. The Roman Empire is up for the taking. The Year of Four Emperors will change everything-especially the lives of two sisters with a very personal stake in the outcome. Elegant and ambitious, Cornelia embodies the essence of the perfect Roman wife. She lives to one day see her loyal husband as Emperor. Her sister Marcella is more aloof, content to witness history rather than make it. But when a bloody coup turns their world upside-down, both women must maneuver carefully just to stay alive. As Cornelia tries to pick up the pieces of her shattered dreams, Marcella discovers a hidden talent for influencing the most powerful men in Rome. In the end, though, there can only be one Emperor...and one Empress.”
Daughters of Rome is a wonderfully fast paced ride through the Year of the Four Emperors in Ancient Rome. Author Kate Quinn absolutely immerses the reader in Roman culture, right down to the tiniest details. It is an all senses experience of the city. One of the most interesting and detailed segments is the food – especially at the dinner parties – OMG! Things that you would never imagine eating. How about a fish served to you while it was dying so that it looked pretty? I would have said, “No thanks!”. You also have the chance to learn a lot about how they dressed. I loved how the four girls frequently dressed in shades of the same color. The most interesting cultural experience for me was the chariot racing at the Circus Maximus. In Mistress of Rome you get to experience on of the other favorite pastimes – the gladiator battles – but it was very interesting to see a great deal of time spent on one of their other enjoyments. Apparently there were favorite teams and you would root for the team you loved (how very similar to today).
Quinn also does a great job making each of the Four Emperors their own unique character. As the book is about the Year of the Four Emperors it is very important that as a reader you understand the differences between these individuals otherwise the drama of the time will not be as profound. She also does a great job of detailing why each one was successful at taking over and what led to the downfall of their predecessor.
The main characters of the story are the four family members, the Cornelias – Cornelia Prima (aka Cornelia), Cornelia Secunda (aka Marcella), Cornelia Tertia (aka Lollia), and Cornelia Quarta (aka Diana). At first it was a little difficult to keep straight who was who, but as the book progressed these characters grew into very distinctive women. Slightly stereotyped but each their own person. My favorites were Cornelia and Lollia. Like any family you see divisions between the girls, arguments, support for each other, reconciliation, etc.
Overall this was a great read – I absolutely raced through the pages. I had to stop reading this book for awhile to get to another book that was more pressing, but I couldn’t wait to get back to this book. I am eagerly awaiting the third book in this series – I like how each book incorporates some of the previous book’s minor characters as main characters.
Kate Quinn also has written Mistress of Rome, which technically follows this book in historical order. Quinn also has a new book that is scheduled to come out in 2012 which will be a sequel to Mistress of Rome, titled Empress of the Seven Hills. You can visit Quinn’s website for additional information about the book. If you would like to preview the story before reading it, why not try out this excerpt of the book?
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