SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome by Professor Mary Beard (Review)

SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome by Professor Mary Beard

Blurb

By 63 BCE the city of Rome was a sprawling, imperial metropolis of more than a million inhabitants. But how did this massive city—the seat of power for an empire that spanned from Spain to Syria—emerge from what was once an insignificant village in central Italy? 

In S.P.Q.R., Beard changes our historical perspective, exploring how the Romans themselves challenged the idea of imperial rule, how they responded to terrorism and revolution, and how they invented a new idea of citizenship and nation, while also keeping her eye open for those overlooked in traditional histories: women, slaves and ex-slaves, conspirators, and losers. 

Like the best detectives, Beard separates fact from fiction, myth and propaganda from historical record. She introduces the familiar characters of Julius Caesar, Cicero, and Nero as well as the untold, the loud women, the shrewd bakers, and the brave 

jokers. 

S.P.Q.R. promises to shape our view of Roman history for decades to come. 

100 illustrations; 16 pages of colour; 5 maps

Review

I will be honest I did not read this very quickly but I still absolutely loved it. I love how Beard explains things and could easily read her books all the time. I don’t find her writing too in depth or complicated to read but find it informative, interesting and rather funny at times. 

Beard’s focus in this book is how Rome grew not how Rome fell. The book begins at around 63BCE with Cicero uncovering the plot of Catiline. By uncovering this plot by Catiline, Cicero basically saves the state. Although Beard is explaining about the beginnings of Rome she starts in 63BCE because there are more historical records that exist from that period. The Romans very kindly left us a lot of written material.

I found this book a refreshing take on the Roman history because it focuses on Rome’s advancement, how it grew and developed rather than its decline which a lot of books focus on. Beard talks about consuls, senators, generals, emperors and even the middle classes, the poor and slaves. Having studied Classics I know that there is very little written about the lower classes in Rome or in fact women because the people who were writing in Ancient Rome were mainly rich men and that is what they focused on in their writing, they didn’t really bother with the lower classes or women. The fact that Beard has bothered to include the lower classes and women in her book is brilliant and very enjoyable to read about. 

The maps and illustrations both colour and black and white work brilliantly within the book and I found them very helpful with the text. I found the maps particularly useful and the colour illustrations very beautiful. 

I know that some people take issue with this book and I know it is nowhere near a definitive history of Ancient Rome but I found it a highly enjoyable read and not a stale read like some books I have read on Ancient Rome or Greece. I give this book 5 out of 5 Dragons. 

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About the author

Mary Beard is a Professor of Classics at the University of Cambridge, a Fellow of Newman College and Classics editor of the TLS. She has world-wide academic acclaim, and is a fellow of the British Academy and a foreign member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. 

The Classics Club: Spin #30 – Results

Hello!

So the results of the latest spin are in and the number is 5. For my list for Spin #30 the post is here. Number 5 on my list is Scenes of Clerical Life by George Eliot.

A collection of three stories. The Stories take place in and around the fictional town of Milby in the English Midlands. Each of the Scenes concerns a different Anglican clergyman, but is not necessarily centred upon him. Eliot examines, among other things, the effects of religious reform and the tension between the Established and the Dissenting Churches on the clergymen and their congregations, and draws attention to various social issues, such as poverty, alcoholism, and domestic violence.

I haven’t read much George Eliot so I am looking forward to reading this book. Hopefully I can finish it by August 7th.

Now I have started reading classics again my TBR pile is growing as there are so many I want to read.

Please drop me a comment if you are doing the Classics Club challenge or if you have taken part in the Spin Challenge.

Happy Reading

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The Classics Club: Spin #30

Hello!

It is time for another spin event from The Classics Club. I really enjoyed the last one I did, because it chose me an absolutely brilliant book that I think I would have left to the end of the challenge. So here are my 20 books, whichever number gets picked on the 12th June I will read and review the book before the set date of 7th August 2022.

  1. Silas Marner by George Eliot
  2. The Woodlanders by Thomas Hardy
  3. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
  4. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
  5. Scenes of Clerical Life by George Eliot
  6. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
  7. Under the Greenwood Tree by Thomas Hardy
  8. Three Men in a Boat by Jerome. K. Jerome
  9. The Vicar of Wakefield by Oliver Goldsmith
  10. Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte
  11. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
  12. The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot
  13. Evelina by Frances Burney
  14. The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
  15. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
  16. Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
  17. Lorna Doone by R. D. Blackmore
  18. The Runaway by Elizabeth Anna Hart
  19. The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope
  20. Candide by Voltaire

I’m really looking forward to what the random selection will be and I hope I will be able to read the book within the time frame. 

Wish me luck!

Please drop me a comment if you are taking part in the Spin event or if you have read any of the books on my list.

Happy Reading

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Goodreads Monday: 2/05/2022

Goodreads Monday is now hosted by Budget Tales Book Club.  All you have to do is show off a book from your TBR that you’re looking forward to reading.

Hello and welcome to the first Goodreads Monday of May.

My chosen book this week is actually one I have read before but one I have put back on my TBR pile because I absolutely love it and want to reread it this year.

Silas Marner: The Weaver of Raveloe is the third novel by George Eliot, published in 1861. An outwardly simple tale of a linen weaver, it is notable for its strong realism and its sophisticated treatment of a variety of issues ranging from religion to industrialisation to community.

Purchase Links

Book Depository | Foyles | Waterstones | Wordery

(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

Please drop me a comment if you have taken part in Goodreads Monday and I will head over for a visit.

If you enjoy reading my blog and would like to make a donation I would be very grateful. Thank you

Goodreads Monday: 25/04/2022

Goodreads Monday is now hosted by Budget Tales Book Club.  All you have to do is show off a book from your TBR that you’re looking forward to reading.

Hello!

I hope everyone is having a good week so far. I have had a thoroughly productive day of teaching and attacking the garden, although it still looks like a wilderness but I hope it looks a bit better.

My chosen book this week is another one off my Classics Club list.

Brought up at Dorlcote Mill, Maggie Tulliver worships her brother Tom and is desperate to win the approval of her parents, but her passionate, wayward nature and her fierce intelligence bring her into constant conflict with her family. As she reaches adulthood, the clash between their expectations and her desires is painfully played out as she finds herself torn between her relationships with three very different men: her proud and stubborn brother, a close friend who is also the son of her family’s worst enemy, and a charismatic but dangerous suitor. With its poignant portrayal of sibling relationships, The Mill on the Floss is considered George Eliot’s most autobiographical novel; it is also one of her most powerful and moving.

Purchase Links

Book Depository | Foyles | Waterstones | Wordery

(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

Please drop me a comment if you have taken part in Goodreads Monday and I will head over for a visit.

Happy Reading

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The New Magdalen by Wilkie Collins (Review)

The New Magdalen by Wilkie Collins

Blurb

Wilkie Collins is rightly regarded as one of the nineteenth century’s most eminent writers. Although many Persephone readers will know The Woman in White and The Moonstone, he in fact published twenty-one other novels. The New Magdalen (1873), Persephone Book No.138, is about a ‘fallen woman’, Mercy Merrick, attempting to rehabilitate her character and her reputation; and the (often reprehensible and unkind) attitude of some of those around her.

Review

I love The Woman in White so I had high hopes for this book and I was not disappointed. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I will be honest I have never rooted for someone who should be seen as the bad guy so much and disliked the good person so much. 

Mercy Merrick has had a terrible life and in the eyes of society she can’t sink any lower but Mercy has been trying to rebuild her life and make herself respectable again but society won’t let her achieve her dreams and keeps knocking her down. The story begins with Mercy working as a nurse in the Franco-Prussian war in 1870. However, during this period Mercy happens to meet Grace Roseberry and they exchange stories. Grace is going to England to become the companion of a rich lady and has all the papers and evidence she needs to achieve this. However, Grace is killed by a shell and Mercy sees her chance at a different life. 

Mercy is a wonderful character, she has had a terrible childhood and adolescence but none of this was her fault. It was the fault of a society that did not look after its poor and vulnerable. Mercy tries to better herself though and refuses to go back to the life she once led. She works hard in whatever job she is in and strives to always do her best. But it isn’t just the fact she works hard it is the fact that she is good and kind and always thinking of others. Other people could have been made bitter and angry by a past like Mercy’s but this is not the case with Mercy and this is why Lady Janet and Julian Gray love her so much. 

Lady Janet is an extremely wealthy woman who is very lonely. She has no children and her marriage we are told was loveless. For all her wealth she has had no love in her life apart from the love of her nephew Julian Gray. Julian Gray is a reverend of some renown, his sermons are legendary and he is known as being rather different from his fellow clergy.  He does not judge people and will try to help anyone in need. 

Grace Roseberry and Horace Holmcroft were my least favourite characters of the book. Grace was pure evil in my eyes, she might appear the perfect lady but she was shallow, unfeeling, selfish and judgemental. Horace Holmcroft spent his life surrounded by his mother and sisters and he was very much a mommy’s boy. His character is also exactly like Grace’s but Collins does not show us his true character until later in the book. 

This book is beautifully written by Collins and so clever that I did not want to put it down. The book really shows that true love can be blinding, it can be all forgiving, it can make you completely change your opinions, true love can really conquer all. I give this book 5 out of 5 Dragons and I can’t wait to read my next Collins novel. 

🐲🐲🐲🐲🐲

Purchase Links

Book Depository | Foyles | Waterstones | Wordery

(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

William Wilkie Collins (1824-1889) was an English novelist and playwright known especially for The Woman in White and The Moonstone.

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Goodreads Monday: 18/04/2022

Goodreads Monday is now hosted by Budget Tales Book Club.  All you have to do is show off a book from your TBR that you’re looking forward to reading.

Hello!

I hope everyone has had a good start to the week. I have had a very lazy day due to having such a tiring day yesterday. This has meant quite a bit of reading which has been lovely.

My chosen book this week is another off my Classics Club list.

Raskolnikov, a destitute and desperate former student, wanders through the slums of St Petersburg and commits a random murder without remorse or regret. He imagines himself to be a great man, a Napoleon: acting for a higher purpose beyond conventional moral law. But as he embarks on a dangerous game of cat and mouse with a suspicious police investigator, Raskolnikov is pursued by the growing voice of his conscience and finds the noose of his own guilt tightening around his neck. Only Sonya, a downtrodden sex worker, can offer the chance of redemption. 

Purchase Links

Book Depository | Foyles | Waterstones | Wordery

(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

Please drop me a comment if you have taken part in Goodreads Monday and I will head over for a visit.

Happy Reading

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The Classics Club: Spin #29 – Results

Hello!

Last week I decided to take part in the Classics Club Spin Event to decide my next read off my Classics Club List. The post can be found here.

Well the results are in and the chosen number was 11. This means my next read will be The New Magdalen by Wilkie Collins and I have to finish it by 30th April 2022.

I have only read one book by Wilkie Collins but I did love it so fingers crossed I will enjoy The New Magdalen just as much.

I am thoroughly enjoying my classics reading after so long without reading any.

Please drop me a comment if you are doing the Classics Club challenge or if you have taken part in the Spin Challenge.

Happy Reading

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The Classics Club: Spin #29

Hello!

I have decided to take part in my first Spin event for The Classics Club. To join in you simply list 20 books left off your Classics Club list before Sunday 20th March 2022 and then the club will randomly select a number. The selected book then has to be read before Saturday 30th April 2022. I have a lot of titles left to read as I have only recently started the challenge so it has been a difficult selection but here is my list:

  1. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
  2. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
  3. Dombey and Son by Charles Dickens
  4. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  5. The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot
  6. Silas Marner by George Eliot
  7. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
  8. Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
  9. Clarissa by Samuel Richardson
  10. Villette by Charlotte Brontë
  11. The New Magdalen by Wilkie Collins
  12. Shirley by Charlotte Brontë
  13. The Woodlanders by Thomas Hardy
  14. The Runaway by Elizabeth Anna Hart
  15. The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
  16. Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
  17. Evelina by Frances Burney
  18. Under the Greenwood Tree by Thomas Hardy
  19. Scenes of Clerical Life by George Eliot
  20. Love in Excess by Eliza Haywood

I’m really looking forward to what the random selection will be and I hope I will be able to read the book within the time frame.

Wish me luck!

Please drop me a comment if you are taking part in the Spin event or if you have read any of the books on my list.

Happy Reading

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Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe (Review)

Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe

Blurb

The novel follows the life of its eponymous heroine, Moll Flanders, through its many vicissitudes, which include her early seduction, careers in crime and prostitution, conviction for theft and transportation to the plantations of Virginia, and her ultimate redemption and prosperity in the New World. Moll Flanders was one of the first social novels to be published in English and draws heavily on Defoe’s experience of the topography and social conditions prevailing in the London of the late 17th century.

Review

This is my second classic of the year and I could not put it down. Defoe is also a new author for me and I was not disappointed. The novel is supposedly an autobiography and was first published as an autobiography rather than saying by Defoe. 

Moll was born in Newgate prison and then put into a children’s home where she honed her skill with needlework and developed her skills and character to be taken in by a wealthy family. Then things became interesting in Moll’s life but one thing that Moll knows how to do is survive. 

Moll is always striving to make money, to become a wealthy woman because this means security. To make this money Moll tries to marry well even if this means tricking men into thinking she is wealthy so she can get to their fortunes. This leads to Moll marrying five times. She also plays the role of mistress to certain wealthy men and then she becomes a master criminal but through all of this she saves whatever money she can and tries to gain that security she strives for. 

I loved the character of Moll because you never knew what she had planned next. She changed her name to hide from undesirables and knew how to stay hidden. She knew how to take advantage of situations and she definitely knew how to make a man fall head over heels in love with her. She also never let anything hold her back especially her children who she clearly did not care about. To be honest I spent a lot of time wondering where some of them had disappeared to as they just seemed to vanish from the story. It was also quite clear that the only child she showed any affection for was because she knew she had something to gain from that affection. 

This book has humour, adventure, danger, romance and much more and I couldn’t help but root for the woman who is at times very mischievous and does tend to hurt people. I absolutely loved this book and give it 5 out of 5 dragons. 

🐲🐲🐲🐲🐲

Purchase Links

Book Depository | Foyles | Waterstones | Wordery

(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

Daniel Defoe (1659/1661 [?] – 1731) was an English writer, journalist, and spy, who gained enduring fame for his novel The life and strange surprising adventures of Robinson Crusoe: of York, mariner (1719). Defoe is notable for being one of the earliest practitioners of the novel and helped popularise the genre in Britain. In some texts he is even referred to as one of the founders, if not the founder, of the English novel. A prolific and versatile writer, he wrote more than five hundred books, pamphlets, and journals on various topics (including politics, crime, religion, marriage, psychology and the supernatural). He was also a pioneer of economic journalism.

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