Now reading, Tom Holland’s Dynasty.
About the House of Caesar. I have only read the first 20% or so, till the death of Augustus (the way the book is written, I feel like putting a spoiler warning here.) It is, as the Guardian reviewer said, a soap opera version of history. A history for our age.
He did not mean this as a compliment, but it is one, nonetheless. Once again, after the bitchy reviews of Antifragile*, and the clueless reviews of Career of Evil, we have a book whose reviews do not reflect on the book at all. Bitchy reviews are awesome, we all love them, but they need to make sense! On Goodreads, there are so many bitchy reviews, like this one of Game of Thrones, and they are popular because they make sense. This review engages with the story, and points out its flaws by comparing it to greater stories. It is simply easier to write good bitchy reviews of mediocre but popular books.
Unlike truly great books, which brings us back to the first 20% of Dynasty. Holland sticks to the business of telling the story, leaving the interpretation to the reader. I will call that respecting the reader, and respecting history, which can be tricky to interpret. But the reviewer calls that a soap opera, and goes on to interpret history, rather than the book itself- and that can be a dangerous ground.
I will not review the reviews anymore, because they are tedious to read. Except the Game of Thrones one, which I am going toread now.
So my thoughts on Livia must await another day.
*Linking to my own thoughts on that book, which were entirely different from that of the critics, if vaguely and inexpertly written..