I was disappointed in the last novel I read: shallow storyline and one-dimensional characters. I couldn’t have chosen a better novel to shake off the ennui from the last one, than Daughters of Rome, by Kate Quinn. Having already read and fallen in love with, her novel “Mistress of Rome,” I settled happily into reading the prequel. This is the story of four sisters and how they shaped and had been shaped by the changing climate of four years and four different emperors.
The outrageous Lollia, who marries several times before she is even nineteen (divorce was allowed back in Progressive old Rome). Lollia, who wanted nothing to do with her daughter or her husbands, bedding other men without much concern for whom it affected. Lollia, through trials and tribulations, becomes a wise woman, a fantastic mother, a sympathetic true sister, and still maintains her outrageous popularity among the gossiping wives in Rome.
Then there is the cool and collected, soon to be Empress, Cornelia, the matron of the family. Until one night changes everything she ever planned for. Lost in grief, she goes through many changes psychologically, and winds up finding herself happy and in love and married to the man they saved them all.
Diana, the youngest cousin, is my hero in this novel, although I have a special place for them all in my heart. Diana, some whispered named after the Goddess of the Hunt. Diana is beautiful beyond compare and doesn’t care what people think of her actions. A little savage with a whole lot of heart, all directed to her beloved horses. Her tongue cannot be stayed, and let’s just say she was lucky the Emperors took a shining to her or it may have been “off with her head.”
Last and least is Marcella. Throughout the novel you gather a sense of unease about her, but you still feel for her as part of the family. Until her true colors show. I don’t know about anyone else, but once I’ve been betrayed, I rather lack the pity that others may have for what troubles come upon those who deserve it. And she gets everything she deserves.
In all, this novel was rich, a joy to read, to know the characters and watch them change before your very eyes and before the changes in their very lives. The connection you feel with the characters is exactly what was missing in my last novel. I want to feel a part of their lives. Of course, this novel based on historical Rome tells of exactly how the culture was; the society as a whole. You really get a feel for what life was like for patrician women. I would give this book and author a bag of Swedish Fish!
*a quick aside about the rating system I’ve decided to use. Stars are so last week, and my favorite candy happens to be Swedish Fish. Of course, it’s going to change for each novel I read, but just know when it’s bad, it’s BAD. For last posts novel, as an example, I would award it a bathtub of jellyfish.