Laura G. (Buffalo, NY)
A fun way to learn about ancient Roman times
I thoroughly enjoyed reading I Am Livia, by Phyllis T. Smith. Learning about ancient history through novels is always fun. This book really kept my interest as the narrator spoke honestly about Livia and other characters' strengths and weaknesses. It was a love story that depicted love and marriage in that time period, both of the wealthy and the common folk. I particularly liked that the author did not get too descriptive about sexuality but rather alluded to things and left it up to the reader's imagination. That is all that is necessary in most cases. I have already recommended this book to friends.
Maurizio M. (Spokane, WA)
Really looked forward to sink my teeth into this historical novel which covers fertile ground and ripe (sic) historical figures. The narrator Livia Drusilla, who marries an ancestor of the maligned/notorious Nero of Rome's burning fame, manages to include in the narrative all the illustrious ( and should be famous ) personages of the time...this was a wonderful recap of the history of Ancient Rome during a momentous time in its history, from Caesar's assassination to her marriage to Octavian, the future Caesar Augustus.
Lea Ann M. (Seattle, WA)
The acknowledgements at the end of this book tell of the research done for it. The author has taken her research and made an outstanding novel, weaving the history and the filled in blanks to create an entrancing read. i like both history and fiction, so enjoyed the mix of the two in this book. We had romance, family dysfunction, war, friendships, enmity..........a wide spectrum of events and emotions; enough to keep this reader eagerly turning the pages. Those who enjoy a rousing tale are encouraged to read this novel. You will not be disappointed.
Angela S. (Hartland, MI)
I am Livia
Most books have some faults that one can point out in a review and still credit the book as being enjoyable. However, in my opinion, there were no faults to critique in this novel. I thoroughly enjoyed it all. If you enjoy historical fiction, and especially early Roman life, then I Am Livia is a great book to pick up. I appreciated that the book is from a female perspective, in a male dominated society. This book espouses the many qualities that are timeless and the difficult choices we all must make. There is political intrigue, scandal, sex, love, honor, trust, forgiveness and the yearning for independence and equality that women of all times and ages have in common. Very well done!
Renee P. (Sanford, FL)
Its not Colleen McCullough but it is darn good in its own way
For me Colleen McCullough's Rome series will probably always be the best books about ancient Rome that I have ever read, but this one, in its own way was a very good read.
While not as scholar-oriented as McCullough's, it made up for that with an underlying sense of drama that compelled me to read to the end even though I knew it how would end from other books on this topic. I enjoyed Smith's emotional pitch thoroughly, it was enough to make me almost feel the character's thoughts myself, but not so overblown that I wanted to shut down and distance myself from it. I think that is probably the best selling point for this book. I will definitely look forward to reading her next one.
Barbara E. (Rockville, MD)
I am Livia
I really enjoyed this historical fiction. It was well researched and well-written and provided a very interesting woman's view of life and politics in Ancient Rome. It is a good rebuttal to the portrayal of Livia in I, Claudius, though I must admit the completely malignant and totally amoral Livia in Graves' book is a tad more interesting than the faithful, intelligent and kind-hearted woman who is much closer to the historical record. Phyllis Smith's Livia isn't lacking in spirit, loyalty or ambition, though, and is still a compelling and interesting character. I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in good historical fiction dealing with the early years of the Augustan Age and the influence of his wife, Livia.
Judy B. (Santa Fe, NM)
This is a well-written, accurate history of Augusta Caesar (as he became known) and his wife Livia Drusilla. I did a some research on my own and the novel is a truthful telling of this period of Rome's history as told from Livia's viewpoint. I chose this book because I am a historian and very interested in ancient history and I am also a woman's rights activist.......and Livia is certainly one! I think the author did a fine job in developing the characters in the story, telling the love story of the two main characters and the history of the period. The story of Marc Antony and Cleopatra was a side story and also accurately told, although I did not know that Caesar Augustus's sister was married to Marc Antony prior to the Cleopatra episode and in the end divorced Antony, another first for women. I truly enjoyed this book and read it in 2 1/2 days. I would highly recommend it!