Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Pilate's Wife

I just finished a book titled Pilate's Wife. Here is the review of it I put on Library Thing.

This book is like a like a tour of the Roman world in the early first century. It moved from the south of France to Germany then to Rome. Then it continued to Alexandria in Egypt followed by the Syrian city of Antioch before returning to Rome. From Rome it moved to Pompeii and then to Palestine. The narrator is a member of the imperial family so the story includes Tiberius, Livia, Sejanus, Caligula, Nero and Germanicus as well as Pilate, the high priest Caiaphus, Mary the Magdalene, Mary the mother and Jesus.
It tells the story of the passion , death and resurrection of Jesus. The cult of Isis and that of Dionysius are explored. The life of one of the Vestal virgins is also related. The book is a spiritual and geographical travelogue of the early first century Roman world. Sometimes, when a number of myths, rituals and ideas were in the air, I felt that this was similar to what Hesse had intended in his Glass Bead Game.
The author returned to college to study the classics to prepare to write this book. And it shows in the world she created in her novel .
But the book has weaknesses. The characters tend to be one dimensional and much like those found in romantic fiction. And it has another weakness common to historical fiction. The narrator’s motives and values are closer to those of a contemporary New Jersey housewife than those of a member of the Roman imperial family.

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