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I Am Livia

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  10,988 ratings  ·  936 reviews

Her life would be marked by scandal and suspicion, worship and adoration…

At the tender age of fourteen, Livia Drusilla overhears her father and fellow aristocrats plotting the assassination of Julius Caesar. Proving herself an astute confidante, she becomes her father’s chief political asset—and reluctantly enters into an advantageous marriage to a prominent military o

Kindle Edition, 391 pages
Published May 1st 2014 by Lake Union Publishing (first published March 22nd 2011)
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Shannon Elizabeth Heffner I'm sure that your group has already read and discussed this book, but in case you're still wondering, the site has lots of conte…moreI'm sure that your group has already read and discussed this book, but in case you're still wondering, the site has lots of content for book clubs, including discussion questions for this and many other books. I hope this helps! :)(less)

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Sarah (Presto agitato)
“If his oddity and mine did not take precisely the same form, still the edges of one seemed to fit those of the other, like two sides of a split piece of pottery.”

Caesar Octavianus Augustus and Livia Drusilla were the original power couple. During the course of a marriage that lasted 52 years, Augustus seized and consolidated power from the crumbling Roman republic to become Rome’s first Emperor. He defeated his rivals, ending the civil wars that took place after Julius Caesar’s assassination, a
Mardel Fehrenbach
Apr 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I downloaded I Am Livia as a part of the Kindle First program, and I read it immediately, finishing early this morning. I absolutely loved it. This is not surprising. I remember watching I Claudius with my parents in the 1970s, and later, when I read the books by Robert Graves, I loved them even more than the mini-series. I also devoured Colleen McCoullough's series of novels about ancient Rome. Livia has been much maligned in history, but I am not sure how much truth there is in these stories a ...more
Yolanda Bacon
Apr 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I haven't been so sucked into a book in a long while. I received this book free from Amazon Firsts, and I've lost the entire day to it! I am a student of Roman art and culture and history, so this was a natural fit for me. I Am Livia tells the story of Caesar Octavianus from the point of view of his wife, Livia, in the form of a personal memoir. It was lovey to read, very well written, and faithful to what we know of that era (to the best of my knowledge). It was refreshing to read of a Roman wo ...more
Apr 08, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, kindle-first
3.5 stars
The history of ancient Rome, in general, has cloaked the women of the Caesars in shadows and obscurity. Undoubtedly, these women are worthy of greater attention; their stories are fascinating in their own right, and rife with intrigue and scandal.
Livia Drusilla (58 B.C.- 28 A.D.) was extremely charitable to the cause of orphans and provided relief support to victims of disasters. She was privy to affairs of state and had the ear of "the ruler of the world." She has been viewed as the m
This is the first novel written by Phyllis Smith.

The plot describes Livia Drusilla's life, being the daughter of Marcus Livius Drusus Claudianus by his wife Aufidia.

The book starts with the assassination of Julius Caesar. Her first marriage was with Tiberius Claudius Nero, her cousin of patrician status who was fighting with er father on the side of Julius Caesar's assassins against Octavian. She had two children, namely Tiberius and Drusus.

But her true love was the emperor Augustus but she wasn
This book does NOT do Livia justice. She was one of the most powerful women in Roman history - and probably world history, as well - so I have trouble believing that the thinly sketched protagonist of this novel has any relation to the woman who becomes the first Augusta of Rome.

I think I'm a little put out because a) I really want a novelization of Livia's rise to power, b) this somehow manages to make Octavian into a golden YA hero which is awful (he was a snake in the grass let's get real!!!
Second read: 02/02/2021 - 02/07/2021
Everything I wrote below still stands. On re-read I adored this book just as much as the first time, and I adored Livia. Of course nobody can truly know what she was like, but Phyllis T. Smith's version is definitely my Livia. And anyway she remains a wonderfully complex, beautifully crafted character.

First read: 07/31/2016 - 08/04/2016
Livia, wife of Caesar Augustus, has suffered a bad reputation. By many historians, she has been considered a ruthless, power-h
Apr 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I Am Livia by Phyllis T. Smith is a 2014 Lake Union publication. I received this book as a part of the Amazon kindle first program for Amazon Prime members.
This period of history is endlessly fascinating to me, but I have not read a lot about Livia Drusilla. I will now want to read everything I can about her whenever I can find the time. The important thing to remember when reading historical fiction is that it is FICTION. Too often historical fiction is critized because it took too many liberti
Amy Bruno
Livia Drusilla, wife to Caesar Augustus, mother of the Emperor Tiberius, ancestress to Emperors Caligula, Claudius, and Nero, and the first Empress of Rome is the subject of Phyllis T. Smith’s novel, I Am Livia. If you’re thinking that she sounds pretty intriguing I can assure you that she is!

As the daughter of a Roman Senator, Livia is incredibly intelligent and politically astute – a trait that comes in handy in later her role as wife and confidante of Caesar. Like most powerful women in hist
Meg - A Bookish Affair
Apr 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
"I am Livia" is a historical fiction tale of Ancient Rome that tells the story of Livia Drusilla, who moves in and out of the political circles of Rome. Told from Livia's own perspective, this book gives the reader a front row seat to an absolutely fascinating time. I really enjoyed seeing all of the political intrigue and romance of the time through Livia's eyes. My fellow historical fiction fans will really enjoy this tale with its fantastic detail.

I really liked Livia as a character. She was
I recently saw Mary Beard give a talk about her new book. She actually referenced I, Claudius and the character of Livia. Because, you know, who doesn't love Sian Phillips.

Seriously, who doesn't?

So, in part, this book seems to be influenced by that BBC production of the Graves novel - though the Livia here comes across as a bit strong willed but a bit meh. In fact, the book is simply about her early life and leaves out the whole bit where Augustus becomes Augustus. It also becomes a bit soap o
Rio (Lynne)
3.5 stars. This was an audiobook. It wasn't heavy and I'm not an expert on Livia, but I believe this was a good way to get familiar with her. Most women were forgotten in this time period, because men wrote the history books, but as Emperor Augustus' wife, no one can deny she left her mark on Rome. This covers her childhood, marriage to Tiberus, then Tavius, up to The Battle of Actium aka Marc Antony and Cleopatra's demise. I enjoyed this story. How powerful was she? I believe a lot, but we will ...more
Dec 25, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: ebook
2.5 stars. For a book told from the POV of a person who lived during the violent transition from gangrenous Republic to dawn of Empire, it was excruciatingly dull. Smith puts so much effort into making Livia yet another misunderstood-woman-of-history-but-male-haters (see also: Lucrezia Borgia) that she gets robbed of any characteristics that undoubtedly helped her preserve her life and secure her station. Sorry, but you had to be somewhat of a bad bitch to keep your head in those days, and espec ...more
Livia in an absolutely fascinating historical figure, and this book really doesn't do her credit. She both annoyed me and bored me, and the heart of this novel was essentially a romance novel. Obviously, her relationship with Augustus is hugely important and the reason she could wield so much power, but there wasn't enough on her relationship with her sons and her ambitions for them. It felt more like a teen romance than a biography of one of the most powerful women in the Roman Empire.

And unfo
May 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
I'll admit it, the cover of this really got my attention, and when I won it here, I was intrigued to see what went beyond that.
I AM LIVIA tells the story of the wife of Augustus/Octavius. I've long been interested in Roman history (and wit Robert Harris' excellent Cicero series fresh in my mind) I was very curious to learn more, and especially to do so from a woman's account of events. This is, of course, a work of fiction, but I trust that Pyllis Smith did a fair amount of research for this boo
Anjanet Mort
Apr 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: for-fun
Got this as a Kindle First Reads. Having read a lot of HUGE books about ancient Rome, I was wondering how informative this could be based on the page count....P.T. Smith did a great job!

The book limited itself to the view point of one character, and didn't focus on ALL of the political machinations of the era, but rather on the affect Livia could have on politics....and the affects the politics had on Livia and her relationships.

There is no lengthy discussion of battles or other political intri
Jul 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book was specially priced on Amazon. I have not read many breakout novels worthy of five stars, but sometimes I get lucky!
'Your congratulations on my victory were not fulsome.'
I liked that quote because Octavian wanted some recognition from Livia that he had finally won a battle. This author portrays Octavian as more than a puny peacock and Livia more than a power hungry poison pusher. I have read about Octavian, Livia, Cleopatra, Antony and the other main characters in all kinds of light
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
I've never considered Livia, wife of Emperor Augustus, to be a very sympathetic figure. Popular culture tends to paint her as a cold, scheming woman but in Smith's hands, Livia is far more sympathetic, likable, and warm. As an enormous fan of Stephanie Dray's trilogy about Cleopatra's daughter, I pretty much thought I'd never like Livia. This book proves the power of a well-written novel: a reader, despite herself, can't resist a convincing main character and realistically articulated emotions a ...more
Feb 08, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2015, historical
It's been a long week, I'm tired, so here it is straight up with no candy coating; this book was a disappointment. I loved the premise the author started with - to tell the story of Livia Drusilla. So often historical fiction set in Rome concerns men, and rarely do we gain a glimpse of the women and what their lives were life. Something the author did really well was painting a picture of 'domestic' Rome, and the role of women in that society. I felt I learned some new things, but the author ble ...more
Apr 06, 2014 rated it liked it
I Am Livia by Phyllis T. Smith

Like the author, I read and saw (and was fascinated by) Robert Graves rendition of Livia in I, Claudius and Claudius the God. Graves, along with some historians, completely excoriated the third wife of Caesar Augustus. The contemporaneous historians went through a bit of a "he said, she said" routine and your view of Livia depends on which one you believe. But it must be considered what each historian had to gain or lose by his comments. And, it must be remembered h
Jul 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ancient-rome
In simple English, Phyllis Smith tells the story of Rome's most powerful woman. (Undoubtedly the most powerful woman of all times in ancient Rome, besides Cornelia Gracchi or Agrippina the Younger. )
It's historically accurate, and although I already knew the whole story of the Roman Republic's demise, I hung on until the end. Livia has been portrayed in different ways, usually as ruthless and tyrannical.
What her true motives were, we'll never know. Smith chooses to depict her as a woman who care
Carolina Casas
The best historical fiction I've read this year. Livia has received a lot of bad press and has earned the nickname of the most evil woman that ever lived in the Roman Empire. Roman historians did her no favors, though they did speak how intelligent and devoted she was, and how she made so many contributions to the common people. Phyllis T. Smith has done a terrific job rescuing Livia, I hope that everyone who reads this thinks the same and starts becoming interested in learning more about her. I ...more
Apr 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Couldn't put it down all weekend. ...more
Ana Fer
Sep 22, 2020 rated it really liked it

We begin the book with a young Livia Drusila, only 14, who hears in her own home a plan to assassinate Julius Caesar by her father and his colleagues. In the eyes of many, he is a dictator who has broken the sacred Republic that was the Roman Empire. A month later, she is married off to an older man, Tiberius Nero, who she doesn’t like and who is a good friend to her father. She isn't happy, even though she knows it's her duty and her mother keeps reminding her of that. On one of their dates as
Feb 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
After reading "The Daughters of Palatine Hill" I knew I had to read this author’s debut novel. For a debut novel I am amazed. Not only was it well-written but the clarity in which Livia’s world opened up before my eyes was unbelievable. Her story felt incredibly real to me, the thoughts she had were complexly human, and never once did I doubt that I was reading the story of a woman who actually lived. Livia was so vivid that I actually forgot that she was a character in this novel and began to v ...more
Aug 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: If you enjoy historical fiction, especially those revolving around Roman figures
I’m always fascinated to read books with different perspectives on a specific person. Throughout history, Livia Drusilla has been called a wide range of names: poisoner, ambitious, driven, etc. Suffice it to say, she hasn’t been put in the best of light. However, in I Am Livia, Phyllis T. Smith takes a different route and shows us the woman behind the rumors to make a place for herself in history.

To start with, the book doesn’t narrate her entire life. Instead it focuses on Livia’s early years,
The FountainPenDiva, Old school geek chick and lover of teddy bears
"I wonder how many women from time immemorial have thought that if only women could rule the world it would be better than it is."

I seriously blame Robert Graves and Sian Phillips for why I Am Livia just fell flat. The Livia of I, Claudius, as fearsome and ruthless as she has been portrayed was far more interesting than this attempt to "correct the record".

Perhaps it's me, but there's something profoundly troubling about stories in which ambitious and/or dangerous women of history are "rehabilit
Jun 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: rome, history-ancient

A historical fiction of the life of Empress Livia, first empress of Rome, wife to Emperor Augustus. Livia often is portrayed as being larger than life, on a pedestal and /or running the empire as a grand puppet master behind the throne.

Here we have a teenager thrust into a deadly political arena where failure to read the climate shifts fast enough can quickly lead to death.

This portrayal of ancient Rome is quick to show that underneath the civilized veneer of indoor plumbing and haute cuisine,
Apr 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
I'm a huge fan of all things Claudian and Julian & devoured Robert Graves' "I, Claudius" & "Claudius the God" so I'm likely deeply predisposed to have liked this a lot. And I did. It was wonderful to get a self-perspective take on the legendary Livia and see that woman before she became that legend. I quite liked her & her voice here was clear. She felt real and though this account differs from many things said of her throughout the ages, that was accounted for and I was perfectly willing to bel ...more
Apr 03, 2014 rated it liked it

There is no denying that "I am Livia" is a very well written and a very well researched book. It takes place during the last years of the Roman Republic and the formation of the Roman Empire. It follows the life of the wife of Augustus Caesar Livia Drusilla, one of the most powerful and controversial women in the history of Rome.

Livia is also one of the most maligned women in the history of Rome. Even now, 2,000 years after her death she is suspected poisoning members of her family who became a

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I was born in Brooklyn, NY and still live about a mile from where I grew up. I received a bachelor’s degree from Brooklyn College and a master’s degree from New York University, and pursued a practical career, teaching computer applications to workers who needed new skills to succeed on the job.

I enjoyed helping my students realize their dreams. But I always yearned to write historical fiction and

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