Historically, only child, Julia, was thrice married, and was finally exiled for flagrant immoralities- as was her daughter. This novel is an earnest, feminine and often convincing attempt to clear Julia's good name. In it, Julia appears as gentle, faithful, high spirited, a pawn of Empire, forced into one unhappy marriage, she found unexpected happiness in another- with wise, soldierly Agrippa, although she always loved Tiberius whom her father finally commanded her to marry. Her stepmother- and Tiberius mother, emerges as the real monster. Scheming for power, she poisons all those who might stand between her son and the rule of Rome- Julia's husbands and sons, even Julia's and Tiberius infant son, and she exiles Julia when she finally threatens to reveal these plots. Robert Graves also has suggested this interpretation of the ""fine, chaste, Roman matron Livi, though it still seems debatable particularly since Tiberius never recalled Julia even after he came to power. Nevertheless this is an exciting, briskly told mixture of intrigue, love, murder and factual details of Roman life and family connections; an inside story of a wide-ranging, cruel and fascinating empire at one of its most interesting points in history, and of a woman caught in its violence. It should appeal to many women readers as well as those fascinated by stories possibly concealed by historical conventions.