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Household Gods

3.85  ·  Rating Details  ·  984 Ratings  ·  114 Reviews
Nicole Gunther-Perrin is a modern young professional lawyer, proud of her skills but weary of the daily grind, of childcare, sexist coworkers, and her deadbeat ex-husband. Then after one exceptionally awful day, she awakens to find herself in a different life, that of a widowed tavernkeeper on the Roman frontier around A.D. 170.

Delighted at first, she quickly begins to rea
Paperback, 664 pages
Published July 15th 2000 by Tor Fantasy (first published 1999)
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The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey NiffeneggerOutlander by Diana GabaldonThe Time Machine by H.G. Wells11/22/63 by Stephen KingTimeline by Michael Crichton
Best Time Travel Fiction
139th out of 1,175 books — 3,819 voters
The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger11/22/63 by Stephen KingOutlander by Diana GabaldonThe Time Machine by H.G. WellsTime and Again by Jack Finney
The Best Time Travel Books of All Time
99th out of 420 books — 1,032 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,674)
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Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
Yuck. Sanctimonious self-righteous nineties divorced lawyer and mother of two has a bad day, gets sent back in time to the second century CE, has a bad life, comes back to the present all wise and everything, and is just as sanctimonious and self-righteous but now with "good" (for her, anyway) outcomes.

Unpleasant character who should have been crucified. Time travel was nicely handled. Nothing, but NOthing, should cause you to pick this book up as anything other than a defensive weapon (500+ pag
Apr 06, 2012 Alyson rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy-sci-fi
Time travel to ancient Rome? Yes! Except... ugh. Could we have a better protagonist, please?

So, we've got this nineties single working mother who, upon having an incredibly shitty day, wishes to go to a simpler time and is sent (mind, not body) to a second century Roman town. Sounds like fun, except that Nicole Gunther-Perrin is apparently the stupidest, most uneducated lawyer that's ever existed, and that severely diminished my enjoyment of this story. For one, she's feels likes a liberal femin
Nov 25, 2015 Jane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
More like 3.5. Time-travel is not something I'd read by choice but I'm so very desperate for novels set in Rome I haven't read I picked this one up. Delightful and quick read--most of it taking place in the Pannonia of Marcus Aurelius' time--but for a beginning and ending telling how the heroine got to and from the city of Carnuntus, which I found out actually existed, as well as the main male character, the [in the novel] fuller/dyer Titus Calidius Severus, historically a former Roman soldier s ...more
Aug 04, 2012 Travis rated it it was ok
This book had so much potential!! What an amazing idea: leaving 20th Century LA for 2nd Century Roman Europe. And I should end this review there on that happy note. Because this isn't the book it could have been and I'm so disappointed!
Part of the problem is the main character, Nicole Gunther-Perrin. She is brittle and unlikable from the first page. And her story is predictable in spite of the wild premise. (Except when she meets the emperor of Rome. Really??? That scene felt like a movie wher
Oct 30, 2011 Joy rated it really liked it
Be careful what you ask for. You might just get it. Nicole Gunther-Perrin has had a bad day. Her ex-husband is late (as usual) with the child support, her baby-sitter is decamping to Mexico, her law career is in trouble, and her 4-year-old has just puked in her car. In despair at the struggles of her modern life, she wishes to be transported to simpler time--and the Roman gods Liber and Libera take pity on her and grant her wish. She wakes up in the 2nd Century AD, in the body of a tavern-keepin ...more
This is one book that has stayed with me. Great read. I absolutely loved discovering what life was like in a 2d century Roman frontier (Carnuntum: Vienna) town along with the protagonist who finds herself transported back in time from modern day. While she suddenly now speaks and understand Latin she still thinks like a 21st c woman and remembers modern life so the lifestyle changes are a bit overwhelming. Far from landing in a "simpler time" she finds all the same problems -and more- just dres ...more
Feb 17, 2008 Velvetink rated it really liked it
Nicole, In her fantasies, she thinks about a simpler time and makes a wish to a statue of a Roman god that she could go back to the simple, happy days when the statue was made.

She wakes up the next morning smelling the incredible stench of a Roman city and speaking Latin. She's as ignorant of history as most people, but soon figures out that she's living in a time after Julius Caesar and before the Fall of the Roman Empire. Beyond that…who knows?
Traci emerson
May 13, 2009 Traci emerson rated it it was ok
Shelves: recently-read
This book could have been so much better. The idea is great - send a modern feminist attorney into the 2nd century Roman empire and hijinx ensues - however, the result fell very flat.

It's completely unbelievable that an educated person would be as laughably ignorant of history as the protaganist. A 7th grader would be better equiped to understand the the culture/time she was transported into. The very specific "modern" details of 1990s Los Angeles living made me groan, and severly dated the boo
Jul 04, 2012 Denis rated it liked it
I had difficulties with this one.

The whole point of the book is to look at the time of ancient Rome through the eyes (and morals) of a 1990's California liberal.

My problem is that I had major issues with the filters the main character was using.

For example, I have problems with an educated person insisting that you shouldn't drink wine, and should only drink (untreated) water. My umbrage is towards how she insists (briefly, of course) that others under her control only drink water - and unsurpr
Lefteris Chaniotakis

The first half of the book amazed me with the depiction of a completely neurotic, puritanical and ignorant single mom. Nobody in their right minds would really believe that a woman's life in the roman empire would be better than in the 1990's. And the notion that women in the second century AD were equal in social status to the men... Even as ignorant as Americans tend to come out in folklore, surely they are not that ignorant...

If you manage to get past the first half of the book and bear with
Dec 31, 2013 Dan rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Time travel group
Shelves: time-travel
Pro: 1) It was fun to get a more personal view of life for an average person in ancient Rome. 2) The novel has a good heft—I like a chance to get to know the characters. 3) There is definitely a “feminist” bent to the novel, and indeed the main character is a woman. Personally, I found that this added to the novel, both in the present and ancient times (that is, it was a nice change to get a woman’s point of view). 4) The ending was a good extension (a follow-up) to the main part of the story th ...more
Aug 14, 2012 Virginia rated it really liked it
Recommended to Virginia by: Debbie--I have a headache from GR
Shelves: 2012books
I think that I would rate this 3.5 stars if I could. I liked all the descriptions of ancient Roman life, the details that were described here, but it was not a perfect book and there were a couple of other things that just bugged me the whole time I was reading it.

For instance, the main character - she was just so wooden and naive and constantly blindsided by basic stuff - like the fact that historically, life smelled much worse. She was incredibly uncurious, for a supposed intellectual, althou
Apr 17, 2008 Wayne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
An excellent historical novel. The story centers around Nicole, a divorced mother of two attorney. She is passed over for promotion, she thinks because she is not part of the old boys network at the firm. Her ex husband runs off with a young coed and her life just too stressfull, hectic, and complicated. She wishes for a more simple life where her accomplishments can be appreciated without regard to her gender. She just happens to be making this wish next to an idol of the Roman god and goddess ...more
Joyce McCombs
Jan 05, 2009 Joyce McCombs rated it really liked it
So... what if you went to bed an exhausted , newly divorced mom of two who can't get her ex to keep up with child support...and who is also full time lawyer who just found out she didn't make partner, on the same day that her day care provider closes down with no notice....wishing you could live long ago when things were less complicated and "real"... ... and what if you woke up in an unfamiliar bed, to an overwhelming stench, forty pounds lighter, with darker hair and eyes and a really good tan ...more
Jul 08, 2011 Tara rated it really liked it
I was skeptical when given this book to read. I am not typically a fan of time travel type books, or at least I didn't think I was. But I must admit I really enjoyed this book. I have read a lot of the reviews from other people complaining about the heroine. Frankly I don't agree with them at all. Not everyone remembers everything about ancient history so that when they are transported back in time they can cope better or understand the struggles they are up against. Frankly, as much as I love a ...more
May 01, 2012 Roz rated it really liked it
A woman, Nicole, is dissatisfied with her life and wishes for what she thinks is a more honest, simpler, less sexist time, ending up in second century Roman Empire. There's a line in an old Joanie Mitchell song that goes "You don't know what you have till it's gone". So true. This "simpler" time is full of slavery, disease, pain, hunger, inequality, war, violence and just plain hard work. So how does she get back to where she belongs? That's the trick.
The books was well written and entertaining.
Kristin  (MyBookishWays Reviews)
Absolutely one of my favorite books ever! I read it twice, which, given how many books I have yet to get through, says alot. A modern day woman, fed up with the demands of her professional life, and a deadbeat ex-husband, wakes to find herself in the body of one of her ancestors, a tavern keeper, that lived in the city of Carnuntum in Roman times (around A.D. 170 or so). This take on "the grass is always greener" is eye opening and sometimes tragic, as she witnesses the plague sweep through her ...more
The other John
I found this time travel tale to be a bit disappointing. It's the story of Nicole Gunther-Perrin, a single mom living and working in L.A., who unknowingly makes a wish to the Roman gods Liber and Libera. The gods grant her desire to live back in the simpler days of ancient Rome and she awakens in the body of Umma, a single mom living and working in Carnuntum, a Roman frontier town by the Danube River. Of course, there's culture shock and, of course, the reader gets a history lesson about everyda ...more
John Kelley
Jul 19, 2014 John Kelley rated it it was amazing
About 10 to 15 years ago, I read Household Gods. I liked it, but I put it aside. A couple of weeks ago, while waiting for Bernard Cornwell's new book the Empty Throne, I picked it up again and stated reading. For me who has had comprehension problems going back to high school, it is a necessary read. Right now I'm in the amphitheater(sp), as Nicole falls back into her political correctness as a bear and a lion fight. For me what is different is that I can take a Google Earth ride to Carnuntum an ...more
Jan 25, 2016 Steven rated it really liked it
Tarr and Turtledove have written a novel, which is hard to put down, thoughtful, and brings ancient history to life. They send the spirit of a modern-day lawyer into the body of an ancestor, who runs a tavern in the second-century Roman city of Carnuntum (now in Austria). Depressed with her job prospects, office sexism, her kids and ex-husband, and modern life in general, she wishes for a simpler, less "artificial" and less "hateful" time in which to live; but when she arrives there, she finds s ...more
Oct 05, 2015 Dawn rated it liked it
It has been over eight months since I read this book, and I still can't get it out of my head. Yes, the protagonist is a self-righteous, arrogant, rude, selfish blah-blah-blah, and long before you reach the end of the book you will wish she is thrown in with the lions or drowned in the vat of...ahem. However, I tried to overlook her personality disorder and the fact that she couldn't even figure out that she should boil the water before she drank it, for goodness' sake, and enjoyed visiting a cu ...more
Mar 26, 2014 Lara rated it it was ok
Excellent story, excellent rendition of life in the Roman Empire...and a heroine who whines and frets and hasn't read any of the right books, who feels all high-and-mighty about drinking water as opposed to small beer until the diarrhea kicks in, who impulsively frees a slave and doesn't think for an instant about the consequences to her or to the slave. *sighs*
Oct 13, 2011 Reanna rated it really liked it
Wonderful book. I have read it twice over the past 5 years or so and it is easily one of those books that you can treat like an old friend. I have introduced it to many of my other friends, think about it and its lessons at odd moments, and plan on visiting it again soon. The story is well written, the settings detailed w/o being overbearing, & the characters are believable.
Sep 02, 2012 Dawn rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'm not quite halfway through the book yet, but I am already so sick and tired of the self-righteousness of this character. I understand and appreciate feminism, but come on! This character spends her time in LA being the victim (very anti-feminist) and her time in ancient Italy hating men. Not a fan of the writing thus far.
Feb 05, 2008 Jessica rated it it was amazing
I put this under historical fiction, because I think Tarr always walks a fine line. Sure, it's about a woman who goes back in time and inhabits the body/life of an ancient Roman ancestor, but other than that, there is no magic. It's a straightforward look at the life of a widow during Marcus Aurelius' time. A wonderful book!
Jun 14, 2009 Chris rated it liked it
This is a weak book in some areas. As in some time travel novels, Nicole accepts things a little too easily. What saved the book is watching Nicole grow. Despite her status as a single mom, she is almost unlikable at the beginning of the book. By the end she has grown as a character.
Jul 30, 2008 Patti rated it it was ok
Recommended to Patti by: Maree
Sorry Maree, but I thought this book was slow. Mostly because the main character goes off on tangents about women's lib and animal rights. I had to skip a bunch of paragraphs. The sotry itself was pretty good- kind of a "the grass is always greener.."
Becky Roper
Jul 18, 2009 Becky Roper rated it it was ok
Interesting idea of traveling back to Roman times and living for a while there. The contrast from modern to Romas times was eye-opening but the writing was ho-hum and the book was WAY longer than it needed to be to get the story across.
Apr 26, 2009 stormhawk rated it it was ok
Long. Way long. Awfully way too long. After a couple of mentions of the stench, we get it. Anachronistic feminism set against the vivid backdrop of the backwater of the Roman Empire wasn't all that entertaining for me as a reader.
Jun 26, 2008 Alison rated it really liked it
I didn't expect this book to be as engrossing as it was. When I finally started it, I finished it in a single day (not without staying up until 3am). A great story and a competent history.
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AKA Caitlin Brennan, Kathleen Bryan.

Judith Tarr (born 1955) is an American author, best known for her fantasy books. She received her B.A. in Latin and English from Mount Holyoke College in 1976, and has an M.A. in Classics from Cambridge University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Medieval Studies from Yale University. She taught Latin and writing at Wesleyan University from 1988-1992, and taught at the
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“My arithmetic is fine, thank you," Nicole snapped. Her arithmetic from what she'd seen was a damn sight better than that of any local without a counting board in front of him. The Romans, naturally enough, used and thought in terms of Roman numerals, and Roman numerals were to arithmetic what cruel and unusual punishment was to jurisprudence.” 1 likes
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