Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Wonderful collection of stories recreating the last days of Pompeii with realism

Perceptive and beautiful collection of short stories strung together like a pearl necklace, each one bringing the reader closer to a tragic and combustible conclusion. Six writers collaborated to highlight the last day of Pompeii, with personal stories of a group a residents from different walks of life. Some based on factual people, others imagined and wrought from the skeletal remains, each tale is powerful and masterly written. Pliny the elder, as well as his nephew, Pliny the Younger are given a backstory as to why only the General left the safety of his home. The story is craftily written, the angst of a teenager finding his adult voice a compelling read. Another coming of age story is of a young bride, torn between her love for a handsome, young artist and the older man her parents arrange for marriage. Each story is connected, the characters sharing plot lines as well as similar fates. Poignant, and perhaps my favorite, is the story of the family destined to be entombed together. Each writer captures the stark panic upon the realization that this is no ordinary tremor. Some fight their fate, other rush to it knowing the futility of resisting. Whether aristocrat or slave, each has hopes and dreams that hang on nature's whims. Though there are survivors, they are scarred forever, their lives altered in ways they could never anticipate. Either way, this is a powerful collection of stories that haunt the reader about an event that took place two thousand years ago. Ultimately it is a tale of love and courage, loyalty and the will to survive.

Happy Reading!
Carole P. Roman

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