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Daughters of Rome    by Kate Quinn order for
Daughters of Rome
by Kate Quinn
Order:  USA  Can
Berkley, 2011 (2011)
Softcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Elizabeth Crowley

In Daughters of Rome, Kate Quinn has written about Rome's most tumultuous year in history, 69 A.D.. Emperor Nero is dead and Galba has taken his place as Emperor of Rome. The year that follows Nero's death is marked by civil unrest, political intrigue, and endless bloodshed. The Cornelli cousins - Cornelia, Marcella, Diana, and Lollia - must face the dark fate that awaits them as Rome witnesses the rise and fall of four emperors in one year.

The Cornelli cousins' fates are intertwined with the identity of the current ruling emperor. As one emperor overthrows another, the family seeks to form advantageous alliances which guarantee survival in this perilous time. The Cornellis repeatedly marry the unfortunate Lollia to men close to the current emperor. Lollia's nonchalant attitude towards these marriages shocks her family. However, as Rome plunges deeper and deeper into civil unrest, Lollia's marriages begin to take their toll on her.

Cornelia is considered the most proper cousin of the four. She is married to Piso, rumored likely to be named Galba's heir. Despite theirs being an arranged marriage, Cornelia and Piso are deeply in love. Cornelia and her family dream of the day that she will be Empress of Rome. However, after Piso is murdered along with Emperor Galba, Cornelia sinks into a deep depression and watches with disinterest as plots against each newly elected emperor arise day by day. Only her desire to avenge her husband's death rouses Cornelia from the state of apathy that overcomes her after his gruesome murder.

Marcella is Cornelia's sister. Although Marcella is married, she is not happy. She highly resents living with her brother Gaius and his snarky wife Tullia. Since her husband is often away from Rome, Marcella occupies herself by writing down events surrounding the fall and rise of the emperors. Through her writing, Marcella comes to the dangerous realization that she can not only write history, but also create it.

The loveliest Cornelli cousin is Diana. Although she is constantly approached by ardent suitors, Diana's only interests are horses and racing. Marcella resents Diana's stunning beauty and the commotion she creates around men. But Marcella realizes she has a more powerful weapon than beauty at her disposal.

Daughters of Rome provides a fascinating view of four women during the year of the four emperors. Although women were not supposed to meddle in politics, each Cornelli cousin's life is altered by the rise and fall of each emperor. Marcella is the most interesting character in the novel. A woman ahead of her time, Marcella makes the mistake of assuming dangerous roles reserved for men. Regardless of whether you already have an interest in Roman history, Daughters of Rome will fascinate you from beginning to end.

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