Friday, October 24, 2014

Household Gods

by Judith Tarr & Harry Turtledove

I found this time travel tale to be a bit disappointing. It's the story of Nicole Gunther-Perrin, a single mom living and working in L.A., who unknowingly makes a wish to the Roman gods Liber and Libera. The gods grant her desire to live back in the simpler days of ancient Rome and she awakens in the body of Umma, a single mom living and working in Carnuntum, a Roman frontier town by the Danube River. Of course, there's culture shock and, of course, the reader gets a history lesson about everyday life in ancient times. The weakness of the book is that there's more of that than there is a story.

The tale starts with a very bad day in 1990's L.A.. After a few pages of well crafted detail, the tsuris goes over the top. Nicole makes her wish and then wakes up to discover the Second Century. She seems to go through every experience on could imagine--the bad hygiene, life without modern technology, gender inequality, slavery, pestilence, famine, and barbarian invasion. There's no real progression of plot or character, save that Nicole realizes that the 20th Century wasn't so bad a place to live after all. Now if the characters were more appealing, I might have been willing to forgive that. But Nicole is rather uninspiring. I might have even liked the book better if she had been killed off earlier and the supporting characters took over the tale.

'Tis merely waiting room material
LibraryThing link

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