A wonderfully concise distillation of one of the greatest advocates of republicanism.




A novelistic depiction of the famed politician and orator Cicero’s lifetime of devotion to the Roman Republic.

As depicted here, Marcus Tullius Cicero is born in 106 B.C.E. in the rural province of Arpino, and he’s an unhealthy baby, expected to die soon after his birth. He survives, although he’s plagued by sickness throughout his childhood and bullied by his peers. In Cicero’s late teens, Gaius Marius takes over the top position of Roman consul and refuses to relinquish power. Lucius Cornelius Sulla organizes an army to oppose his despotic designs. Cicero joins this army out of loyalty to the republic, ascends the ranks due to his sharp strategic mind, and eventually becomes Sulla’s trusted adviser. However, Sulla has tyrannical ambitions of his own, and when he announces his plan to storm Rome after the death of Marius and his henchman, Cinna, Cicero protests and returns home to Rome. He becomes a lawyer and rises to notoriety after he takes a case defending the unpopular Sextus Roscius, who’s accused of murdering his father; in this telling, Cicero proves that Sextus was framed by Lucius Sergius Catiline. Cicero is expelled from Rome as a result and made quaestor of Sicily; there, he opposes the local governor, who bilks his citizens through illegal taxation. Cicero eventually returns to Rome and becomes a senator, and he successfully opposes the power-hungry Catiline for the seat of consul. However, his career never quite recovers politically—he’s simply made too many enemies. Debut author Martin vividly captures Cicero’s unflagging commitment to the republic of Rome in this fictional dramatization. The prose is straightforward and unembellished but powerful, and the author mostly maintains historical accuracy, with some occasional storytelling license. The author also includes a riveting subplot about Cicero’s friendship with Julius Caesar, whose own fidelity to republicanism wasn’t nearly as uncompromising as Cicero’s. The novel is part of the Barbera Foundation’s Mentor Project series, dedicated to the portraiture of historically significant Italians. Besides its biographical content, its depiction of Cicero also movingly captures his stoical composure in the face of grave danger.

A wonderfully concise distillation of one of the greatest advocates of republicanism.

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-947431-03-4

Page Count: 252

Publisher: Barbera Foundation, Inc.

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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Britisher Swift's sixth novel (Ever After, 1992 etc.) and fourth to appear here is a slow-to-start but then captivating tale of English working-class families in the four decades following WW II. When Jack Dodds dies suddenly of cancer after years of running a butcher shop in London, he leaves a strange request—namely, that his ashes be scattered off Margate pier into the sea. And who could better be suited to fulfill this wish than his three oldest drinking buddies—insurance man Ray, vegetable seller Lenny, and undertaker Vic, all of whom, like Jack himself, fought also as soldiers or sailors in the long-ago world war. Swift's narrative start, with its potential for the melodramatic, is developed instead with an economy, heart, and eye that release (through the characters' own voices, one after another) the story's humanity and depth instead of its schmaltz. The jokes may be weak and self- conscious when the three old friends meet at their local pub in the company of the urn holding Jack's ashes; but once the group gets on the road, in an expensive car driven by Jack's adoptive son, Vince, the story starts gradually to move forward, cohere, and deepen. The reader learns in time why it is that no wife comes along, why three marriages out of three broke apart, and why Vince always hated his stepfather Jack and still does—or so he thinks. There will be stories of innocent youth, suffering wives, early loves, lost daughters, secret affairs, and old antagonisms—including a fistfight over the dead on an English hilltop, and a strewing of Jack's ashes into roiling seawaves that will draw up feelings perhaps unexpectedly strong. Without affectation, Swift listens closely to the lives that are his subject and creates a songbook of voices part lyric, part epic, part working-class social realism—with, in all, the ring to it of the honest, human, and true.

Pub Date: April 5, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-41224-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1996

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Dated sermonizing on career versus motherhood, and conflict driven by characters’ willed helplessness, sap this tale of...


Lifelong, conflicted friendship of two women is the premise of Hannah’s maudlin latest (Magic Hour, 2006, etc.), again set in Washington State.

Tallulah “Tully” Hart, father unknown, is the daughter of a hippie, Cloud, who makes only intermittent appearances in her life. Tully takes refuge with the family of her “best friend forever,” Kate Mularkey, who compares herself unfavorably with Tully, in regards to looks and charisma. In college, “TullyandKate” pledge the same sorority and major in communications. Tully has a life goal for them both: They will become network TV anchorwomen. Tully lands an internship at KCPO-TV in Seattle and finagles a producing job for Kate. Kate no longer wishes to follow Tully into broadcasting and is more drawn to fiction writing, but she hesitates to tell her overbearing friend. Meanwhile a love triangle blooms at KCPO: Hard-bitten, irresistibly handsome, former war correspondent Johnny is clearly smitten with Tully. Expecting rejection, Kate keeps her infatuation with Johnny secret. When Tully lands a reporting job with a Today-like show, her career shifts into hyperdrive. Johnny and Kate had started an affair once Tully moved to Manhattan, and when Kate gets pregnant with daughter Marah, they marry. Kate is content as a stay-at-home mom, but frets about being Johnny’s second choice and about her unrealized writing ambitions. Tully becomes Seattle’s answer to Oprah. She hires Johnny, which spells riches for him and Kate. But Kate’s buttons are fully depressed by pitched battles over slutwear and curfews with teenaged Marah, who idolizes her godmother Tully. In an improbable twist, Tully invites Kate and Marah to resolve their differences on her show, only to blindside Kate by accusing her, on live TV, of overprotecting Marah. The BFFs are sundered. Tully’s latest attempt to salvage Cloud fails: The incorrigible, now geriatric hippie absconds once more. Just as Kate develops a spine, she’s given some devastating news. Will the friends reconcile before it’s too late?

Dated sermonizing on career versus motherhood, and conflict driven by characters’ willed helplessness, sap this tale of poignancy.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-312-36408-3

Page Count: 496

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2007

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