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Edie M. (Kennett Square, PA)
I Am Livia
This book is the story of a girl who grew up before your eyes. She is a little too smart for her own good at times. Taking place during Ceaser, Mark Anthony and Cleopatra. Sad at times but also inspiring. I liked this book because we vacationed in Italy this past summer and I could visualize some of the scenes. Great love story.
Nancy H. (Foster City, CA)
Completely drew me In
"I Am Livia" is one of the most enticing and satisfying first novels I've read. It kept me up most of the night and I postponed doing anything else this morning until I finished it. The author made it easy to appreciate the complexities facing the main characters; to identify with their struggles and motivations; and to appreciate when Livia and Tavius found their way forward together. I had little previous knowledge of the lives of these larger than life characters and appreciated the author's clear writing style that provided strong characterizations as well as a strong narrative. I'm planning to make this my next book club selection - it will definitely make for a lively discussion!
Tracy B. (New Castle, DE)
I am Livia
I always enjoy reading about the forgotten women in history. This book cover her life in a time of turmoil. The author took us into the mind of and intelligent and caring woman. It is my favorite way of learning about and remembering history.
Marianne S. (Ulysses, KS)
I Am Livia
As a fan of historical fiction, I enjoyed this book. Livia was the second wife of Caesar Augustus. I had never heard of her and knew very little about Ancient Rome. I learned a lot about both from this book. The author made the times come alive and described Livia's life clearly and in chronological order. It's important to me that a book be reasonably historically accurate, and I Am Livia seems to be so. However, if a reader doesn't like historical fiction, this book probably won't change his mind about the genre.
Vivian H. (Winchester, VA)
A Refreshing Perspective on Livia Drusilla
I Am Livia is a "must read" for anybody who loves well-researched historical fiction about fascinatingly strong women of history who lived in challenging times, achieved power and/or influence and deserved to be remembered for her own contributions and not just her association with a powerful man or family.
Elinor S. (Loudonville, NY)
I am Livia
Livia Drusilla, wife of Caesar Augustus, mother and grandmother to future emperors, and daughter of a Claudii patrician who supported the assassination of Julius Caesar, recounts her life in a first person narrative beginning with her marriage at age 14 to a much older man, Tiberius Claudius Nero, through the civil wars that culminated with the death of Antony and Cleopatra, and the imagined relationship with Rome's First Citizen.
The narrative flows nicely and this is a fairly quick read. The author makes an effort to rehabilitate Livia's reputation as a power hungry woman who poisoned her enemies or family members that might conceivably vie for political control.
The only parts of the book that didn't resonate well with me were the depictions of Caesar as completely a besotted suitor and husband. The dialog felt awkward to me.
For those who hungrily devour stories of this historical period, loved the Masters of Rome series by Colleen McCullough or stayed glued to the HBO series "ROME", this story is peopled with characters that feel like old friends.
I'm always happy to read about ancient Roman history as it has been a verrrrry long time since high school Latin. I was however disappointed with the quality of the characterizations. I felt no emotional connection with Livia, thus, only "good" from me.
Yolanda M. (Boise, ID)
Great Period Novel
I picked up this book fully expecting a story that would enter the world of ancient Italy. What I didn't expect was to be thrown into a story without major introduction. This tale doesn't need one. From page one the characters, especially Livia and her father, are fully fleshed out, three dimensional people. Livia is a very strong teen and woman and I was constantly awed by her steel reserve to do what needed to be done. Though pretty much given away by her father to an older man in a political agreement, she spends very little time whining and a substantial amount of time working with what she has to create a life within boundaries that would choke a modern teen/young woman. The environment was finely done and I was especially pleased that the author let me picture Livia's world rather then spending pages belaboring it. It took me about 4 hours to read and I found myself, because it was written in first person, truly inhabiting Livia's mind and understanding her spirit. The two characters not completely drawn are her mother and sister, and I have to say that it seemed to fit their actions very well. Neither seemed to touch either Livia's world in an earth shaking way ... almost like they were lying in the river of the life they'd been handed rather than standing up in the current.
Kristen H. (Hagerstown, MD)
The author at times took a little liberty with the golden boy, Caesar, and I was disappointed that he turned out to be no better than any other man, but forgave him much as Livia chose to. Had she chosen not to, I would have done the same thing as well.
As the novel moved from gritty street to palatial hill, and from the noisy city of intrigue and back-stabbing to the countryside, it was easy to hear the sounds in each. The tensions between the characters and the tensions of the time are what kept me up until 2 in the morning. Women and children as victims of war were a recurring theme and the helplessness they dealt with every day is still echoed today and I found myself wanting to rescue everyone. But Livia, strong (and flawed) woman that she was, wouldn't take pity from anyone. She had a will that brought her through. And, she was wily. I admired that!
The book finished beautifully not with happy ever after so much as the way life probably really is. This woman had lived a very full life, had been heard, had lead and been led. Honor killings, court intrigue, men raging and women being wicked, hard headed men and strong women ... who could not enjoy this?
This book was very well written. Phyllis Smith, a first time author did a good job at combining history and fiction to make this a very interesting and captivating read. Her research on the subject was very thorough and well thought out when combining the two.
This is a book I would recommend to book clubs. The author gave a great prospective on how the women of the great warriors lived and kept their households functioning while their men went off to battle. Thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and look forward to other novels by this author.