Jules's Reviews > Eromenos

Eromenos by Melanie J. McDonald
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's review
Sep 05, 2011

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bookshelves: blog-tour, reviewed, sent-4-review

The actual review with a rating of 3.5/5 (and a giveaway)can be found on my blog:
One Book Shy of a Full Shelf

I wasn't really sure what to expect when I agreed to review this book. Hadrian is a historical figure that I had heard of before, but I wasn't familiar with his personal story or that of his beloved Antinous. The fact that this is in actuality a love story piqued my interest and made me want to find out more. Especially when I read that a grief-stricken Hadrian had immortalized Antinous and literally put him up on a pedestal next to his own.

I learned a lot about Hadrian and the times he lived in. This story is about a powerful man and the boy he loved. The young and attractive Antinous caught the great emperor's attention at a very early age. Extra opportunities and advantages were bestowed upon Antinous, including an excellent education. Hadrian enjoyed quick minds as well as youthful beauty and was grooming Antinous to be his companion or courtesan, if you please.

Told from Antinous' point of view as he looks back over his brief life, it shares the details of a close relationship that is doomed because of the society they live in, the expectations that are put upon them and the simple fact that the wheel of time turns. Melanie McDonald has given Antinous a voice to tell his story in his own way. I enjoyed seeing the Romans through his eyes and seeing how the different levels of society lived and were treated by each other. It truly is a story of love between two people that are at different stages in their lives and on two completely different Socioeconomic levels.

One of the things that really jumped out at me was the author's attention to detail. It is very obvious that she put a lot of research into the time period and what was normal for both the upper and lower classes. I was amazed when the dishes of one of the feasts were being listed and it included hummingbird! I was horrified to think of the little beauties that come to my window every day being in a dish. But then my logical side took over and I started wondering about who would have to catch the little hummers, pluck them, clean them, etc. I started feeling sorry for that person. Can you imagine having that task? Especially since the birds would barely be a mouthful for all of that effort... (Be sure to read Melanie's guest post about Food and Feasts in Ancient Rome).

I do recommend this book to those who enjoy a fresh look at an important time and person. It's a much more intimate and personal look into the story of a larger-than-life man in Rome's history. The author does a beautiful job of sharing a poignant and tragic tale that will stay with you long after you've finished reading the book. There is also a helpful section at the end of the book with questions for reader's groups or book clubs.
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