What do you think of when you hear the name Nero? I immediately recall the common saying that Nero fiddled while Rome burned. Most of us know very little about the man and his life, but Margaret George is about to change that. The book opens with a short passage from Locusta:
This is not the first time I've been imprisoned. So I am hopeful that this is a sham and that the new emperor, Galba, will soon need my unique services and quietly send for me and once again I shall be treading the palace halls. I feel at home there, and why shouldn't I? I have provided my timely services for those in power for many years.—The Confessions of Young Nero by Margaret George (Berkley, 2017, opening [ARC])
By trade I am a poisoner. There, why not say it? And not any old poisoner but the acknowledged expert and leader in my profession.
- Setting: ancient Rome
- Circumstances: The story of Nero's life from the age of three: his education, his likes and dislikes, the political maneuvering that made him emperor, and his death. The book seeks Nero's true character in the context of the sociopolitical climate of ancient Rome. We also gain insight into life in ancient Rome as well as get to know Nero's family, friends, and foes.
- Genre: historical fiction
- Themes: family, politics, ambition
- Why I want to read it: I've read two or three of George's novels, and I enjoy her style and appreciate her careful research. She is known for finding new perspectives, and this novel promises to shed light on Nero's personality and to tease the facts from the myths. Although I've read several novels set in ancient Rome, I'm curious what I'll think of this nicer, more sensitive Nero.
- Reviews: Most of the reviews I've read praised George's research and noted that the novel is engaging and easy to read. One reviewer thought the book had a slow start but was hooked once Nero was set on the path to political power. Everyone had an opinion on whether he or she liked this new Nero, and all mentioned the historical details and way George brought the people and time period to life.
Thanks to the nice people at Berkley Books, I am able to offer one of my readers with a USA mailing address a copy of Margret George's Confession of Young Nero. All you have to do to be entered for a chance to win is to fill out the following form. I'll pick a winner via random number generator on March 15 (an appropriate date!). Once the winner has been confirmed and the address sent to the publicist, I'll erase all personal information from my computer. Good Luck.