Tags: hist-fic

Book Review: Mistress of Rome by Kate Quinn

Mistress of RomeMistress of Rome by Kate Quinn

My rating: 1 of 5 stars


It's ancient Rome, and a Jewish slave falls in love with a Gladiator from Britannia. This begins the story of Thea & Arius, and their savage existence under Emperor Domitian's rule.



Sounds intriguing, right? If you believe the reviews it should be, but unfortunately for me, I simply could not get into this story. One hundred pages from the finish and I had to stop: I just could not bring myself to continue reading, not even after I had subjected myself to 300+ pages.



I don't know how to categorise this novel: Is it hist-fic? Romance? Something else? Perhaps I have become too much of a history snob, but I did not feel the story centered around Domitian enough to be based upon his life, especially considering that most of the characters and events in the story are entirely fictional. For me, the story lacked historical substance, and that was the greatest disappointment.



Another major issue I had with this novel was that not one of the central characters was likeable, nor could I relate to or connect with any of them: I could not care less what happened to them in the end, hence the reason for my not bothering to find out.



The purpose of many of the minor characters I couldnt understand: There's nothing more annoying than to have a character appear seemingly out of nowhere, and have the author try and establish their background and purpose to the story in a single, random paragraph.



I also didn't like the repetitive use of full names: It was unnecessary and added nothing to the story. Also, too many characters were inter-connected in too many ways. For example, why did all the characters have to have had sex with one another to be known to each other? I just didn't get it.



All in all, a disappointing read and not what I expected at all.


BCID: 024-8113004 (Bookring)



View all my reviews

Teaser Tuesday.


Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

1. Grab your current read
2. Open to a random page
3. Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
4. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS!
5. Share the title & author, too, so that others can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!



This week's Teaser Tuesday comes from Kate Quinn's debut novel Mistress of Rome, a story about a Jewish slave, a Britannian gladiator, and their masters.

"He was the hero of the mob, the favourite of the slums, and the plebs of Rome poured their money uncomplainingly into Gallus's hand so they could pack into shaky stadiums and hang on his every move. They told their children he was a devil, they counted his scars and tabulated his kills; they howled and shivered and came back screaming for more." - p70

Book Review: Lady of the Butterflies by Fiona Mountain



BCID: 954-8369112

Title: Lady of the Butterflies
Author: Fiona Mountain
Category: Historical Fiction

 

"What was the point of living if it was not to learn? There were things I wanted to know, that I couldn't live without knowing, couldn't die not knowing, or not at least without trying to find out."

Fiona Mountain's debut novel Lady of the Butterflies is based around the life of entomologist Eleanor Glanville.

Eleanor grew up on the marshlands in Somerset, and was made heiress of Tickenham Court at her Puritan father's death. Eleanor was educated by her father in a manner that was unconvential for the time, teaching his daughter about the developing sciences as much as religion, and with little focus on "female tasks". This upbringing encouraged Eleanor's fascination with the natural world, and with butterflies in particular.

After her marriage to her first husband, Edmund Ashfield, and with plans in the works to drain the marshes for prime grazing land doomed to fail, Eleanor's interest in butterflies wanes as she settles into domestic life and becomes a mother. However, at Edmund's sudden death she establishes a friendship with London apothecary James Petiver, whose interest and knowledge of butterflies re-sparks Eleanor's obsession.

Her second marriage to Richard Glanville proves disasterous, and so Eleanor distracts herself in the collection and recording of butterfly specimens. Through this process the connection between the condition of natural habitats and butterflies was made. It was also these collections that made her famous, some of which can now be seen in the British Natural History Museum, and which lead to the naming of the Glanville fritillary in recognition of her efforts.

However, Eleanor's family did not share this appreciation. They used her interest in butterflies to found claims that she was not of sound mind in order to turn over her will and claim her estate.

Whilst Eleanor's exact fate has not been established, Fiona Mountain provides one of the most inspriring and clever endings to Eleanor's story that truly reflects her passion and determination to be free, like the butterflies she dedicated her life to admiring. This is not just a novel about a woman with an interest in butterflies: It is a story about the amazing and inspiring life of a woman who refused to be dictated to and restricted by convention, and whose tireless work in the study of butterflies has provided us with the understanding necessary to ensure their survival.

A beautiful story, impeccably written, and highly recommended.

Teaser Tuesday.


Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

1. Grab your current read
2. Open to a random page
3. Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
4. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS!
5. Share the title & author, too, so that others can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!



This week's teaser is from Fiona Mountain's debut novel, Lady of the Butterflies. It is a historical novel on the life of botanist Eleanor Glanville, a Puritan, set in the ancient marshlands of Somerset, England, after the Civil War.


"What was the point of living if it was not to learn? There were things I wanted to know, that I couldn't live without knowing, couldn't die not knowing, or not at least without trying to find out." - p152 


What are you reading?