“Pompeii” by Robert Harris

Pompeii by Robert Harris is the book for my local reading group this month and it tells a fictionalised tale of the last two days before the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in the first century AD. Told from the point of view of the Aquarius (the engineer who is responsible for the aqueduct that carries water to the towns in the region), it describes the signs that led upto the point of eruption, and is a thriller of politics and corruption, and a love interest thrown in to boot.

I’ve only ever read one book by Harris before (The Ghost) but from what I can see of his books, he likes to write fictionalised accounts of real events. I would say this book would make a good holiday read, as it reads like a blockbuster thriller. If you’re a fan of history and the Romans, I don’t think you’re going to learn much from this book, although it’s obvious that the author has done his research, and I was fascinated by the description and engineering of the aqueduct.

On the slightly negative side, I’m not sure about the dialogue. Most of the speech is in a modern, contemporary style, with a sprinkling of swearing thrown in, which I actually liked because it made it easy to read, and let’s face it, we have no real idea how they would have spoken in those times and it certainly wouldn’t have been in English, but on the other hand, it did take me out of the story a bit at times.

Good thriller though, and an interesting subject to tell a story about, and I’d recommend as a good, holiday read.

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