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The Uncertain Hour: A Novel
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The Uncertain Hour: A Novel

3.98 of 5 stars 3.98  ·  rating details  ·  50 ratings  ·  14 reviews
a.d. 66: Having been falsely implicated in a plot to assassinate the emperor Nero, Titus Petronius has a choice: await the executioner at dawn, or die a noble Roman death by his own hand. Deciding that his will be a suicide like no other the world has ever seen, he summons a small circle of intimate friends to his magnificent villa on the enchanting Tyrrhenian coast of sou ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published May 29th 2007 by Bloomsbury USA
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Community Reviews

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Keith Currie
One night in Cumae – una nox vigilanda
If this is not the best novel I have read this year, it certainly comes close.
In a short chapter in his Annals of Roman History, Tacitus gives a brief summary of the end of the life of one Petronius, the emperor Nero’s ‘arbiter elegantiae’ or style councillor. This man had been sentenced to death following a conspiracy against Nero’s life, in which he had probably not been involved. As a concession to past friendship the emperor permitted Petronius one nigh
Read it in a day. Would send to my dad but I want to re-read.
I couldn't make up my mind between 3 or 4 stars. A philosophical novel, it recounts the Saturnalia Eve on which the Roman nobleman Petronius, gives his "suicide dinner" to which he has invited his closest friends. Having displeased Nero, he has been given a death sentence. At various points in the dinner he slips away to open his veins, then bandages them. The menu is strictly that of Trimalchio's Feast in the "Satyricon", which Petronius is supposed to have written. I could practically taste ev ...more
A special, unusual book about the night of the Roman Petronius's suicide banquet. Much internal dialog, well done though only possible to be conjecture. A portrait of the ways of the Roman culture.
Completely different look into Roman life-the acceptance of suicide as a way to save face. This story encompasses a dinner party as the host gradually kills himself through blood-letting.
May 28, 2009 Tish rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who loves historical fiction
Set in AD 66 this short novel hits on all the high points of acient Roman life. my only dislike was some of theuse of current vocabulary.

set in one night that will find the main character dead by dawn,it portrays a party of his closest friends with all the Roman foods.
there was one line that i will use again and again..."professional headonists". it is a good read not a great read. i wish tha author would have used chapter breaks.
actually read this book because three out of the four blurbs at the back were from writers i like (michael cunningham, jim crace and sigrid nunez). what a fine read it has turned out to be. its the time of the roman saturnalia and petronius (putative author of satyricon and nero's arbiter of elegance) - having fallen out of favor of the emperor - hosts a suicide banquet. a brilliant fictive meditation on life, love and death.
I found this a very quiet, introspective story. The intimate look at this roman family and their close friends on the eve of a massive change in all their lives was interesting.
For me, this book was a little slow. The self introspection was often too meandering and left me bored.
I liked the concept and the characters but couldn't give it more than a solid like.
Rachel Libert
This is a historical fiction, only the historical part doesn't seem accurate. I could be wrong. It is an interesting look into daily Roman life however, the writing leaves something to be desired. Worth the time, but not ground breaking or anything.
A really beautiful book. Superb in any sense but really nice if your interested in Ancient Rome and historical fiction. But if not I thought it was really nicely written and at the ending I couldn't put it down.
Historical fiction wins again. Set in Roman times we witness the final hours of a disgraced noble-man who lead a quintessentially excellent life.
Started slowly, but when the dinner guests begin the arrive, the pace of the book picks up. Quick read.
One of those books that still haunts me even though I read it 5 years ago.
food and roman history.
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Jesse Browner is the author of five books including the novels Conglomeros (Random House 1992), Turnaway (Random House 1996) and The Uncertain Hour (Bloomsbury 2007). He has also translated a number of notable books including the award winning Celine: A Biography. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and two daughters. "
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