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Daughter of Pompeii

Daughter of Pompeii by [Lorraine Blundell]

In Daughter of Pompeii, author Lorraine Blundell envisions what life might have been like in Ancient Rome for a little-known girl from Pompeii, called Poppy in this historical novel, and the notorious Emperor Nero. The story begins while Poppy is just a young girl and Claudius is still emperor. Through a tragic turn of events, Poppy loses her only family and embarks on a life-long quest for vengeance. Her journey to becoming Empress of Rome eventually felt less about revenge and more about straight ambition, to change her own destiny and rise far above her station.

Poppy’s character is written sympathetically while still attempting to convey the horrific things she did. Poppy is relatable and easy to root for, but there are times I felt she was unjustified in her actions, but this spike of emotion the story created in me is the mark of good writing. Her only lasting relationship throughout the book is with a friend she makes as a young girl who journeys through life with her, ever loyal and dependable. Farzana is an intriguing moral character, which made me wish I saw more from her perspective in the book. In addition to these two characters, there is a large collection of interesting characters who flit in and out of the narrative.

The narrative is told from an omniscient perspective, and the story often jumps from character to character, switching points of view or “getting inside their head”. I thought this was a little confusing, as it wasn’t always clear whose thoughts we were following. The story covers a lot of time, making this feel like a very quick read.

This novel was well written and the story was very entertaining. There’s everything one might want from a historical novel: the historically accurate references to real people and recorded facts from their lives, the political intrigue of the time, and a glimpse into ancient life for the differing classes. We get to view major historical events through the eyes of our protagonist, bringing to life tragic events like the murder of Claudius, the burning of Rome, and Nero’s descent into madness.

If you’re a history buff, particularly interested in Ancient Rome, this book is for you. Author Lorraine Blundell provides a riveting fictional story within an already fascinating time in history. All of this is elevated by Lorraine Blundell’s captivating storytelling ability.

Pages: 262 | ASIN: B07S1S75JV

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Pompeii: My Love Must Wait

Pompeii: My Love Must Wait by [Lorraine Blundell]

Pompeii: My Love Must Wait by Lorraine Blundell is an immersive and dramatic historical fiction following the lives of multiple characters in Pompeii and Rome before and after the eruption of Vesuvius. The story starts in Naples in 1991 at The Archaeological Museum. Sarah, a student helping on a dig in Rome, has aspirations of working as a historian or restorer, and she comes to the museum to view an artifact–an ancient Roman dagger that was discovered in the Lunpanar, the largest brothel in Pompeii.  After Sarah is shown a diary written by a woman who lived in Pompeii at the time of the eruption, the book takes the reader back to 78 AD. Who will survive the tragedies that lie in wait for the unsuspecting people of Pompeii?

This was a gripping story of the personal struggles of some very compelling historical characters, making this a book that was hard to put down. It provided the prospective of many different people from all walks of life, from the owners of large estates to slaves forced to work as prostitutes. The list of characters at the beginning of the book was helpful to remember who each individual was as they were introduced in the story and explained their relationship to other characters. I liked that the author indicated who was a historical figure and which ones were fictional characters because the story feels so authentic and well researched that its easy to think that all of the characters were real people.

There were several sections in the book, in the beginning and near the end, that were broken into parts that focused on different characters. It was interesting to read the descriptions of everyday life for the people from this historical period, such as the female fresco painter, the mayor of Pompeii, and various other business owners and citizens. These vivid portraits of people living so long ago was enthralling and, for me at least, I was able to see them as people rather than abstract ideas like many history books present them. I liked seeing how things turned out for the people who escaped the destruction of Pompeii. There were interesting historical notes at the end of the book, and I liked the inclusion of the map at the beginning that showed the villas, theaters, temple, streets, and other landmarks of Pompeii, which is helpful for readers who have not visited the historical site in person.

Pompeii: My Love Must Wait is historical fantasy novel written by someone who clearly has a passion for the era and knows how to construct riveting drama, even so far back in time.

Pages: 306 | ASIN: B093Y3PLZL

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Pompeii: the Peacock Murders

Pompeii: The Peacock Murders’, written by Lorraine Blundell, is set in the interesting and famous city, Pompeii, as young women start disappearing and a series of unique and recognisable murders are occurring throughout the city. It follows characters Cletus Asper, an undercover investigator, and his assistant Felix as they attempt to solve these bizarre murders and delve into the horrors of the past. All the while, the active volcano Vesuvius erupts.

This is a historical mystery thriller set in Pompeii and filled to the brim with interesting and engaging characters. To start off with the best aspect of the novel is the setting, Pompeii.

Lorraine Blundell went through great lengths to accurately portray this renown city and it is evident in all aspects of the story. From the ‘simple tunics’ to the ‘silk-made stolas’, from the ‘volcanic lava paved stones’ to the ‘coloured frescoes of peacocks and theatre masks’, it’s obvious that the setting is packed with historical accuracy. Not only this, but it is consistently told in engaging ways, not once did I find myself skimming any of these parts.

An abundance of characters appear throughout this novel, which can be troublesome, as sometimes a reader does not get the chance to understand, relate, or even like the characters of a novel if there are so many of them. Pompeii: The Peacock Murders evades this well in some areas and not so well in others. A few times, I found myself interested in a character only for them to never appear outside of that page. That being said, those that were explored were done well and Blundell did a good job in showcasing motivation and interests.

Other than the setting, one of the biggest aspects of this novel is the mystery. When this was first introduced, it was very intriguing and a bit heart-breaking. And while it continued to be so, eventually Pompeii: The Peacock Murders turned more to the motivations of characters, which is not harmful. In fact, it’s the opposite because doing so expanded our knowledge and judgement of certain characters. The reveal was satisfying, some readers will definitely guess who the culprit is but even though my prediction was right, it was still satisfying. And that, in my opinion, is the sign of a great mystery.

Ultimately, this is a fantastic historical fiction novel that was an enjoyable read and those who love this genre will have much to dive into.

Pages: 288 | ASIN: B08G4JX8ML

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Herculaneum: Paradise Lost

Herculaneum: Paradise Lost by [Lorraine Blundell]

The stunning seaside resort of Herculaneum happens to be one of the most exotic and appealing places on Earth. It is home to people from all walks of life, all social statuses, and boasts breathtaking views and lucrative businesses. Even those who have little manage to have a full and happy life in Herculaneum. What many there seem to forget is its beauty is overshadowed daily by its position relative to the one thing that can change the lives of every man, woman, and child who dwell there. Herculaneum, its residents, and all of their hopes and dreams lie adjacent and vulnerable to Mount Vesuvius.

Herculaneum: Paradise Lost, by Lorraine Blundell, details the events leading up to, and the eruption of, Vesuvius and the lives most impacted by the tragic event. Blundell includes a large cast of characters who, at the outset, seem unrelated. From the beginning the book reads like short stories all loosely related, but by the book’s ending, the author pulls the characters together and unites their seemingly disconnected plots.

Though several of Blundell’s characters have subplots based on intrigue, I felt that there was a lack of one single overarching climax to the story. That being said, the cast of characters are interesting enough to keep readers engaged and invested in the plot.

Set in 78 AD, Blundell’s work is an easy and engaging read. For a time period known for vibrant language, this particular book reads smoothly and the author’s choice of verbiage is uncomplicated and lends itself well to the characters’ varied plots. In rare moments there were phrases like “fast food” that I thought were out of place, however these moments were few and far between and only stood out because of the rich and powerful language utilized so expertly throughout the rest of the novel.

Though Prima isn’t necessarily set as Blundell’s main character, I was left with the impression that hers was one of the most striking subplots. The almost positive spin the book puts on her job as a prostitute flows well with the idea that Herculaneum is a virtual paradise where everyone is happy and fulfilled no matter their choices in life. The turnaround Prima is able to make with her life–her second chance–is a beautiful metaphor for new beginnings.

Anyone who enjoys an element of history in their dramatic fiction story will enjoy Blundell’s work. Herculaneum: Paradise Lost is a fantastic and quick read with poignant lines, rich characters, and a powerful message.

Pages: 238 | ASIN: B084JCM3RT

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