Tuesday, June 3, 2014

G312 Book Review of I am Livia by Phyllis T Smith

Name of Book: I am Livia

Author: Phyllis T Smith

ISBN: 9781477848821

Publisher: Lake Union

Type of book: Livia, Rome, Caesar Augustus, Julius Caesar, PME 44 to 31 PME, ruling, marriage, customs, Egypt, Cleopatra, Mark Anthony, Ides of March, assassination, powerful woman

Year it was published: 2013


Her life would be marked by scandal and suspicion, worship and adoration…

At the tender age of fourteen, Livia Drusilla overhears her father and fellow aristocrats plotting the assassination of Julius Caesar. Proving herself an astute confidante, she becomes her father’s chief political asset—and reluctantly enters into an advantageous marriage to a prominent military officer. Her mother tells her, “It is possible for a woman to influence public affairs,” reminding Livia that—while she possesses a keen sense for the machinations of the Roman senate—she must also remain patient and practical.

But patience and practicality disappear from Livia’s mind when she meets Caesar’s heir, Octavianus. At only eighteen, he displays both power and modesty. A young wife by that point, Livia finds herself drawn to the golden-haired boy. In time, his fortunes will rise as Livia’s family faces terrible danger. But her sharp intellect—and her heart—will lead Livia to make an unbelievable choice: one that will give her greater sway over Rome than she could have ever foreseen.


Main characters include Livia, Octavinius, Livia's first husband as well as some others. Livia is red-haired, intelligent and well-read thanks to her father. She is also dutiful and enjoys making the world a better place. Octavinius is blond haired and blue eyed who is also shy and is best described as a wolf in a sheep's clothing. He is also sickly and has a lot of things he is unable to eat.He is also ambitious and will stop at nothing to get what he wants. Livia's first husband, Drusus, I think, cares more for power than anything else. He is a caring husband and is kind of indulgent towards Livia. Other characters did include Octavia, Octavinius's sister who is meek and who only desires peace no matter what unhappiness it may give her.


Intelligence and connections gets one far


Its written in first person narrative from Livia's point of view. The story is straight-forward and linear, although at times I had difficulty understanding the battles that Tavius (Octavinius) was fighting with others. In some ways, the book also made Roman history much more understandable for me. For some odd reason, Livia didn't really strike me as ambitious in the book and some of it feels a bit forced for me. I did wish that the story would go on until Livia gets old or dies, but unfortunately she stops the narrative shortly after certain defeats. The book also has a different point of view on Cleopatra and Mark Anthony, Octavinius's sister's husband, so if you're looking for a romanticized version of the tale, then this isn't the right book.

Author Information:
(From TLC)

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Phyllis T. Smith photoAbout Phyllis T. Smith

Phyllis T. Smith was born and currently lives in Brooklyn, New York. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree from Brooklyn College and a master’s degree from New York University, Phyllis pursued a practical career in computer applications training, yet found herself drawn to literature and art of the ancient world. I Am Livia is her first novel. She has another novel set in ancient Rome in the works.
Connect with Phyllis T. Smith at her website, phyllistsmith.com.


The story and the writing is pretty addictive although it doesn't really go into a great depth of life during the Roman times. I took a class on Roman Empire years ago and I thought I recognized certain things from Suetonius's biography about Augustus Caesar. I also had hoped that the book would go further in time instead of skipping over the way it did. I guess I was interested in machinations. Earlier on, I hosted a tour for The Eagle and the Swan and I couldn't help but make comparisons between Livia and Octavinius as well as between Theodora and Justin. In fact, reading and recalling this book makes me want to go back and re-read Suetonius' biography on Augustus. The book itself is a quick read and memorable, but its not a very in-depth book, which isn't a bad thing because once in a while one needs something fast as well as gourmet.

This is for TLC Book Tour

Phyllis T. Smith’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, April 21st: Passages to the Past – author guest post
Wednesday, April 23rd: Dwell in Possibility
Friday, April 25th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views – author guest post
Monday, April 28th: Historical Tapestry – author guest post “Why I Love Rome…”
Monday, April 28th: Words for Worms
Tuesday, April 29th: A Bookish Affair
Friday, May 1st: Literally Jen
Wednesday, May 7th: Broken Teepee
Saturday, May 10th: Italian Brat’s Obsessions
Monday, May 12th: Passages to the Past
Tuesday, May 13th: Unabridged Chick
Monday, May 19th: Ageless Pages Reviews
Thursday, May 22nd: Books Without Any Pictures
Tuesday, June 3rd: Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Wednesday, June 4th: Luxury Reading
TBD: Col Reads
4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoy Roman-era novels so I'm looking forward to reading this one.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour!


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