FORTUNE'S FAVORITES

In her third majestic tale of Rome (83-69 B.C.), McCullough spotlights three mighty beings and the frictive sparks from their occasional interactions: Sulla, Dictator of Rome, whose early career was chronicled in The First Man in Rome (1990) and The Grass Crown (1991); the military juggernaut Pompey; and the great Julius Caesar, ``the greatest prime mover of them all.'' Again, McCullough brings order to the mighty tangle of battles and political strategies of ancient heavyweights—in the Forum Romanum or in the tents of war. Sulla, his early beauty gone, scabrous, toothless, and given to bouts with the wineskin, takes over Rome as Dictator, issues a blizzard of new laws returning rule to the patricians (landed aristocrats), and banishes all masks and effigies of his old partner and foe, the late Gaius Marius (The First Man in Rome). Sulla will tolerate the contributions of Pompey, who insists on being called ``Magnus'' and has a child's temperament (``He could never be a danger to the Republic,'' says Caesar). Among those opposing Sulla is Young Marius (son of Gaius Marius), whose head will join others of Sulla's enemies on poles by the Senate. Working for ``order and method,'' Sulla labors for Rome and thereby his ``dignitas'' (``his personal impressiveness''—the only triumph over death). His job done, Sulla makes a shocking exit and has a last laugh. Meanwhile, Julius Caesar, finally relieved of a hated role as priest, embarks on a series of extraordinary military and diplomatic coups, but quietly, correct in hierarchical obligations, stunning in charm, intelligence and beauty—and patient. Like other authors of popular Roman historical fiction, McCullough must reconcile those civil, gossipy, sophisticated makers and doers with acts of bizarre cruelty (the Spartacus slave revolt featured over 6,000 crucifixions along a major highway). But the author's fidelity to sources, her witty glossary, and strong narration offer some firm ground and exciting speculation. (Maps and illustrations) (Literary Guild Dual Selection for January; First printing of 100,000)

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 1993

ISBN: 0-688-09370-1

Page Count: 890

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1993

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

BAREFOOT

Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more