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Daughters of Rome by Kate Quinn
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's review
Mar 24, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: historical-fiction
Read from June 18 to 24, 2012

I really like Kate Quinn. Her books are easy to read, the prose flows like melting wax and the story is told so beautifully that you're just sucked into it. Because for me, this read started slow. But then before I knew it, I was invested in these four Roman women and their lives. I felt sorry for them, but my admiration for their strength of character grew as the story of the Year of Four Emperors was told.

Cornelia at first, came across as the fussy, prudish ever do right of this foursome. I was a little dazed by her husband's death, and slightly indifferent to her grief, but that's only because I didn't know Cornelia then. Later, when she takes Drusus as her lover, and she starts to leave behind the conventionality of bring a patrician, Cornelia grew on me. A woman seeking her own happiness? Putting aside the dangerous politics of the times and her family's good standing to turn down suitors to honour herself and the memory of her husband? I got to respect that. Reinventing herself with Drusus? Beautiful. Love this strong woman. Because this is a story about strong women, I discovered.

Lollia, the flirty, empty headed trollop of the family comes next. That's all she is in the beginning, a woman too busy with her love affairs for her own child, buying a slave for her own sexual pleasures. And she becomes the character I admire most. She is, oddly enough, very kind, non judgemental. Lollia gives to the poor during the flooding of the river Tiber, comes to love her body slave, and just becomes that wise woman of the world all young women should talk to once in their life--at nineteen, mind you. she protects her child and slave from her barbarous husband, and she's just nice. I like her. Quiet strength is often the strongest.

Diana the huntress, I was so curious about her. Shunning suitors, loving horses, learning to drive a chariot. I thought she'd find some grand love but I laughed when I realized that love was her horses, and probably only them. I should have realized that she was too much her own person, too independent to end up any other way than making her own way in the world. And I smiled with triumph when she unravelled Marcella in the bath house. Utterly brilliant, and beautifully timed by Quinn. And highlighting that Diana is far more intelligent than anyone has ever really bothered to notice.

Marcella. The beautiful, but rather ignored intelligent woman of this foursome. Not destined to be Empress, not able to really be a historian, with nothing to occupy her time or her insightful mind, I felt sorry for her at first. She was just so unimportant to her family. To everyone almost. But then I watched her mind slowly snap with her own bitterness and plotting, and I'm not sorry for her own anymore. By the end, when she's still underestimating her sister and cousins, she comes across as slightly mad. Marcella becomes Empress of Rome, a fate she never wanted or sought after with all her plotting. It's a fitting end for this author of history. I don't like Marcella much, but I'm sad to think it was her lot in life as a woman, that drove her to such an end.

Why only four stars? I missed Thea and her gladiator. I know Vix's story is next, but that just shows you how much I loved Quinn's first book.

So...four and a half glittering stars.
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Reading Progress

06/21/2012 page 176
48.0% "Of these four Cornelias I think I love Diana best."
06/23/2012 page 250
68.0% "All right, these women have really pulled me into this story. Want to see more of Diana now!"

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