Confessions Of Young Nero by Margaret George
Description of Confessions Of Young Nero by Margaret George
THE CONFESSIONS OF YOUNG NERO (Berkley Hardcover; March 7, 2017; $28) is written, like Robert Graves’s I, Claudius, in the form of an autobiography. It reveals with luminescent detail Nero’s complex talents and successes, his childhood, his rise to power, and his instinct for self-preservation which first took root on the moonlit night his insane uncle, the Emperor Caligula, tried to drown him.
Nero’s life—riddled with murders, rivalries, plots, orgies, and incest—is sensational on its own. But for George, THE CONFESSIONS OF YOUNG NERO is not just an opportunity to tell his story. It is an attempt to rehabilitate his image, and to expose the truth and complexities about both a man—and a time period—that has been much mythologized. George spent five years researching the novel, but her idea of resetting Nero’s villainous reputation has been building for more than thirty.
When he is just a small child, Nero’s mother, Agrippina, is released from exile by her elderly uncle—the newly crowned Emperor Claudius. Agrippina quickly plucks Nero from his modest upbringing, and embarks on a ruthless pruning of the family tree to ensure what she believes is her son’s rightful place in the Palace. Her naked ambition, cunning, and well-placed doses of poison help the obstacles fall one by one, until a teenage boy is given control of an Empire. Both tempted and terrified to assume his reign, Nero’s indoctrination into the incest, violence, luxury, and intrigue that have gripped Rome’s seat of power for generations will shape him into the man he was fated to become.
George covers the unfolding of Nero’s life and legacy, including his forced marriage to his cousin Octavia at fifteen; his passion for a beautiful ex-slave and other love affairs; the influence of the great philosopher Seneca on his reign; and his attentiveness to his political duties, including the improvement of Rome’s courts and public amenities. George uses Nero’s expansion of theatres, athletic games, chariot races, and musical performances as a window into the powerful artistic and athletic impulses that governed him, and which made him a champion of the common man—the men among whom he’d begun his life as “Lucius,” until fate made him forever “Nero.”
Like Mary Beard’s revisionist history of ancient Rome, SPQR, NERO both challenges our assumptions of that time period and taps into readers’ fascination with the Empire. Readers of Philippa Gregory will adore and find much to discover in George’s latest novel.
The author will continue Nero’s story in a second book, which picks up during the ill-fated, final four years of his young life, as he faces his biggest test and challenge: the Great Fire of Rome.
My Thoughts Confessions Of Young Nero by Margaret George
In the Roman Empire, after the rein of Julius Caesar, Nerō Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus was born. Nerō was adopted by his great-uncle Claudius, Emperor, to become his heir and successor. As boy, there are attempts on Nerō’s life. He learns at a young age that life can be fleeting. He even fears his own mother, Agrippina, noting *“I knew then that to be her enemy was to perish—and that being her son would not exempt me.” He knows that she has murdered before!
Young Nerō loves art and sport. He loves to watch the races at the Circus Maximus and even talks his tutor into arranging for him to take lessons in sport. He tends to be able to have fun and be a child only when his mother is away.
This is book one and only covers Nerō’s younger years. Book two will delve into his final four years of life, cut short at a young age.
I tend to enjoy long “meaty” books, especially dealing with history. At 528 pages, this book qualifies however, I did find it dragged on in parts and could have been edited down at least 100 pages, perhaps more. I did read an uncorrected proof, so perhaps it went through more editing before publication, this month.
I did enjoy Margaret George’s writing and descriptions of life in the Roman Empire and do recommend it. I could tell that the book was well researched as well.
*Please note that this quote was in the uncorrected proof and may not appear in the published version.
I received the ebook galley from Net Galley for my honest review.
About Margaret George
Margaret George is the New York Times bestselling author of six novels of biographical historical fiction, including Elizabeth I, Helen of Troy, Mary, Called Magdalene, The Memoirs of Cleopatra, The Autobiography of Henry VIII, and Mary Queen of Scotland and the Isles. She also has written a children’s book, Lucille Lost.
Giveaway of Confessions Of Young Nero by Margaret George
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