Alyson's Reviews > Household Gods

Household Gods by Judith Tarr
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Apr 06, 12

bookshelves: fantasy-sci-fi
Read from March 29 to April 05, 2012

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 feminist as written by someone who has never met an actual liberal feminist and definitely has a poor opinion of us: open-minded when it conveniences her, and snidely dismissive of men, no matter how they treat her. Nicole sees ulterior motives in men everywhere and comes off as stuck-up and narcissistic. She's incredibly judgmental, somewhat condescending, and barely even thinks about her children when she's in the past.

More disturbing is the fact that apparently Nicole has never studied ancient history. The fact that people (including children) in the past drank wine and beer regularly HORRIFIES her, she's SHOCKED by the existence of slaves, she's APPALLED by parents smacking their children, etc. It's very, very hard to root for a 30-something heroine that is so ignorant.

The writing here contains a lot of telling, not showing, which served to make me constantly think I'd missed something. Nicole reminisces about her daughter doing a certain activity, but we've never been shown that. She remembers a conversation--that we never read. It's a weird, amateurish writing decision, and ultimately distracting.
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