excellent book I read this book in 1977&still remember it as a great book. It is quite long, 658 pages but it is very hard to put down. It is intertaining&interesting. I know I will be reading it over&over again.
Howatch is wonderfull Howatch puzzles me, her novels look like run of the mill pulp fiction best sellers to judge by the covers but once you start to read them you discover a formidable intelligance. Why doesn't this author have the reputation her skills entitle her to, she is easly up there with Drabble, Murdoch and other Doyens of the British novel.This is a Modern Day Story of Caesar. I've ready this book about 6 times for the past 10 years and it always delights. It didn't hit me, until I started studying ancient Rome that it is the very story of Caesar and Cleopatra, but set in Wall Street, New York (as powerful as ancient Rome!) The story begins identical to the first meeting of Caesar and Cleopatra...just as Cleopatra was brought to Caesar rolled in a carpet and carried by her faithful servant...so is Diana Slade brought to Paul Van Zale concealed in a cart and rolled in by her trusty Geoffry. Paul's wife is barren, just as history says that Caesar's wife Calpurnia was barren. Guess what else? Paul has epilepsy - who else can you think of that historians believe ALSO had epilepsy? Paul's right-hand man Steve is described exactly as Marc Antony...burly, surly and with dynamic charm - guess what? Diana and Steve find an even greater love than Diana and Caesar...oops I mean Paul Van Zale...Paul is assasinated by the son of his ex-mistress (If you know your history...you know that Brutus is the son of Caesar's ex-mistress Servilia...) Paul leaves his fortune to his cunning, clever, sickly nephew Cornelius. Who also mirrors Octavian (Augustus Caesar in later years) Octavian becomes Diana's bitter enemy and vows to take from her the one thing that she holds most dear...Mallingham her ancestral home... Just as Octavian vowed to take Egypt from Cleopatra. Steve is hounded by Cornelius much as Antony was hounded by Octavian and finally dies a virtual suicidal death...When Cornelius tries to take Diana back to New York (mmmh, seems to me that Octavian wanted to bring Cleo to Rome...) Diana gets the last laugh. Paul's son also dies in his early years just as Caesarian did. Paul's only daughter Vicky married Paul's enemy just as Caesar married his daughter to Pompei...and Guess what? She dies during her pregnancy just as Julia did! I can go on and on, but you get the picture. In my youth, I considered this a truly original masterpiece...but I now know that the entire story is the most famous in history and that it did not come from Ms. Howatch's incredibly imaginitive mind. It does not mean this book isn't worth reading...It Is!! We'll just have to forgive her for borrowing from history. I have ready many of her books and they are all wonderful. I usually read them many times.