This summer, I have spent an inordinate amount of time in ancient Rome. Some folks might not find that their first choice for light reading, but for me, there’s nothing better than a good spy novel, or four, and good spy novels set in one of my favorite time periods are the perfect formula for summer entertainment. Not to mention the time I’m spending trying to cast a movie of these books in my head. The story carries through four volumes from the great fire in Rome (through which, contrary to legend, Nero did NOT fiddle) all the way until Vespasian is made emperor. There is love, loss, victory, intrigue, intricacy, and an amazing amount of meticulous historical research. The characters wrap themselves around your heart and Ms. Scott’s descriptions of the sights, smells, and particularly the sounds, of a long past world truly lift you out of your chair and into a history that is vivid and vibrant.
I first discovered Manda Scott’s writing when I bought the fourth book of her Boudica series in the Heathrow Airport to get me home from Spain in 2007. As soon as I landed back in Colorado I sought out the three previous books and found them all to be some of the best historical writing I’d come across in years…since I was first addicted to the incomprable Rosemary Sutcliff as a teenager.
Long story short, I would read this woman’s grocery lists and consider myself honored. I’m enough of a fangirl to say that I just received a personal copy of Dreaming the Bull, signed, from her possession, and that, if the stars and finances are in proper alignment, I will participate in at least one of her Dreaming Awake workshops next year.
In short, this has been some of my best summer reading ever.