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About the blogger:
Debra Hamel is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.


Books by Debra Hamel:

THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
VICTORY AT SEA AND ITS TRAGIC AFTERMATH IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
A TRUE CRIME STORY
FROM ANCIENT ATHENS
By Debra Hamel


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
By Debra Hamel


paperback | Kindle | hardcover (US)
paperback | hardcover (UK)

THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
By Debra Hamel


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

TRYING NEAIRA:
THE TRUE STORY OF A COURTESAN'S SCANDALOUS LIFE IN ANCIENT GREECE
By Debra Hamel


paperback | hardcover (US)
paperback | hardcover (UK)

SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
By Debra Hamel


Kindle (US) | Kindle (UK)

ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
THE LIBERATION OF THEBES AND OTHER ACTS OF HEROIC TRANSVESTISM
By Debra Hamel


Kindle (US) | Kindle (UK)

IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
FIVE HUNDRED 1ST LINES IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
By Debra Hamel


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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Book-blog.com by Debra Hamel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - No Derivative Works 3.0 License.



East, Rebecca: A.D. 62: Pompeii

  Amazon  

4 stars

Miranda, the protagonist of Rebecca East's A.D. 62: Pompeii, is a graduate student studying classical archaeology at Harvard. It turns out that her knowledge of ancient cultures and her relatively small size make her the ideal candidate for a time travel experiment being conducted by unnamed researchers. The science behind the experiment and the particulars of its financing are never spelled out, but our heroine is due to earn a hefty sum as a guinea pig. The plan is for her to be sent back roughly 2000 years to ancient Rome, though the scientists won't be able to pinpoint precisely either her location upon arrival or the exact date. She is to live among the natives for a few days, attracting as little attention as possible, and then return to the 21st century by activating the transmitter that's embedded in her upper arm.

Unfortunately, things don't go as neatly as planned. Miranda lands in the middle of the Mediterranean--fortunately near a fishing boat--in 61 A.D., during Nero's reign. Eventually, after a series of unpleasant experiences, she finds herself in Pompeii, working as a slave in a wealthy household in the shadow of Vesuvius--18 years before the mountain is due to bury the city in ash. And the transmitter in her arm proves to be a less than reliable escape route.

I have two quibbles with East's novel. The first is minor, and is addressed by the author to an extent when she introduces Miranda as a "walking encyclopedia": I find it hard to believe that a graduate student, however many years of Latin under her belt, or indeed any modern Latinist would be able to communicate as effectively as Miranda does upon first arriving among real-life Romans. My second complaint, more substantial but easily fixed, is that the author very often repeats information in the book that we've already heard. But a good editor would, I think, make quick work of excising the redundant passages.

Apart from these quibbles, this was a thoroughly enjoyable read. The world into which Miranda is thrust is well-imagined. Background information about the ancient world is woven deftly into the story, so that the book never (or perhaps only once) reads like it's trying to teach us something. The plot, too, is very believable (once you accept the notion of time travel, of course): send a 21st-century woman back to Nero's Rome and it's plausible that she would have this kind of experience, that she would encounter just such problems while trying to assimilate. I was pleased, too, that the book does not suffer from the stilted language that is so common with historical fiction.

In short, I really enjoyed this novel, far more than I expected to. The book is self-published through iUniverse. Here's hoping that the author will find a wider readership for this story through a traditional publisher.

Comments

1.

Sounds like an interesting book. I'm reminded of a book I read by, I'm pretty sure, H. N. Turtletaub. The author must be Harry Turtledove, "taub" is Yiddish for "dove." The book is about an American woman who, beset by modern problems, longs to live in ancient Rome. One morning she wakes up there and then. I can't remember the title of the book, despite my Googling, Amazoning and Bookfoundering. Can anyone help. Great story, it puts the main character's modern sensibilty smack dab against Rome's ethos.

2.

Hey, Michael! Sounds interesting. Let me know if you think of the name.

And that reminds me of the two time travel books by Jack Finney, Time and Again and From Time to Time, which are well worth the read.

3.

Try this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Household_Gods

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