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Household Gods    by Judith Tarr & Harry Turtledove order for
Household Gods
by Judith Tarr
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2000 (1999)
Hardcover, Paperback
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Nicole Gunther-Perrin is having a really bad day! Not only is the single mother of two dealing with childcare woes and a tight budget but she is passed over for a promotion at her LA lawfirm. The decision is obviously sexist, in Nicole's eyes. Her evening doesn't get any better as her child gets sick and the microwave explodes. Nicole is at the end of her rope as the stresses of single motherhood drive her to bed. Life has to be simpler, she thinks and wishes to live in a less complex time, a time where women are treated equally.

Nicole should have known that not every wish comes true in the way it is intended.

Instead of wakening to her Southern California chaos, dawn finds Nicole in a far off place, in the body of a Roman Tavern owner in the year AD 170. She is immediately thrust into the era as her senses adjust to the fragrances and textures of the times. While teetotaler Nicole is initially disgusted to find that she owns a tavern, she slowly begins to come to terms with her new life. She is concerned about the welfare of the children she left behind, but the pain of her loss is greatly eased by finding that she had children in her new 'body' of Umma the tavern keeper. Nicole slowly adjusts to live in the Roman era through strife, famine, war and so much more.

So rich in historical detail that I could almost taste the ripe olives on my tongue, Household Gods almost sent me into sensory overload. This book was painstakingly researched and edited, with care and thought given to clear, descriptive imagery. After reading it, I felt I had stowed away on Nicole's journey with her. This is a must read for time travel lovers, history lovers and anyone who enjoys a historically dense tale. Nicole seemed to cling to her modern viewpoints a little long in some spots, and there were a few loose ends that just scream sequel, but overall this was an incredibly solid work from two revered authors.

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