DAUGHTERS OF ROME
Reading Quinn’s second novel of the Empire is like watching the TV series Rome, or the film Spartacus, but better, because empowered women are the focal point. Through the eyes and lives of four cousins, known as the Cornelii, the turbulent history, customs and intrigues of the era are brilliantly highlighted. Quinn’s artful research allows her to realistically bring events and characters to life in this historical novel to savor.
Nero has fiddled and Rome is in a new stage as four cousins come of age. Best friends, the women couldn’t be more different. Intelligent Cornelia, who loves her young husband and is the ideal Roman woman, would appear to be “leader” of the four. She is not flighty like Lollia, who swaps husbands as often as Rome swaps emperors, nor is she devoted to watching and writing out a history like Marcella; she is certainly more interested in people than Diana, who adores horses. But as leaders come and go and blood runs through the streets, a coup turns the cousins’ world upside down. At first Cornelia’s husband ascends the rocky throne, but in one quick move Marcella rises as she learns how to manipulate those in power. One man will rise above the rest and only one of the four can be at his side. (BERKLEY, Apr., 480 pp., $15.00)