Wonderful Wednesdays to give book bloggers a chance to spotlight wonderful books that they haven’t had a chance to talk about before. They don’t have to be recent reads. Just well-loved books. Each week has a different theme and this week’s theme is historical fiction.
This is a tough one for me. I have to take part because it’s historical fiction! I read this genre more than anything else. The problem is picking just one book to talk about. There are so many that I love.
I finally realized that Wednesday was going to end if I didn’t just pick one of my favorites and say something. So here it is. One of the best historical fiction writers of all time has got to be Colleen McCullough. She’s tackled various times and places and her books are amazing. But while many people will remember her as the author of The Thorn Birds (for those who remember when the T.V. miniseries was all the rage) I became addicted to her books because of The First Man in Rome. This is the first book in her massive Masters of Rome series, chronicling the end of the Roman Republic and the start of the Empire. I ate those books up.
The book, including glossary, is over 1000 pages. The history is meticulously researched. When reading the story you are thrown back into ancient Rome. For those unfamiliar with the huge cast of characters and the complexity of the political intrigues, not to mention the geography of the military endeavors, the book can be daunting. But the personalities as so forceful and the plot so compelling that I was sucked in to the story even when I couldn't keep track of all the threads. What I loved most about this book (and its sequels) is how alive the characters were and how deeply emotionally invested I became in their stories. For all the intricacy of the history and politics, for all I felt I was learning something about a pivotal time in human history, mainly, I was reading a tale of human striving, love, friendship – triumph and tragedy. The characters are larger than life and yet, they are real. Just thinking about the book makes me want to read it again!