Tuesday, March 31, 2015

"Lady of the Eternal City"

Kate Quinn is a native of southern California. She attended Boston University, where she earned a Bachelor's and Master's degree in Classical Voice. A lifelong history buff, she first got hooked on ancient Rome while watching I, Claudius at the age of seven. She wrote her first book during her freshman year in college, retreating from a Boston winter into ancient Rome, and it was later published as Mistress of Rome. A prequel followed, titled Daughters of Rome, and then a sequel, Empress of the Seven Hills--written while her husband was deployed to the Middle East.

Quinn made the jump from ancient Rome to Renaissance Italy for her fourth and fifth novels, The Serpent and the Pearl and The Lion and the Rose, detailing the early years of the Borgia clan. She also has succumbed to the blogging bug, and keeps a blog filled with trivia, pet peeves, and interesting facts about historical fiction. She and her husband now live in Maryland with a small black dog named Caesar, and her interests include opera, action movies, cooking, and the Boston Red Sox.

Quinn applied the Page 69 Test to Lady of the Eternal City, the fourth book in the Empress of Rome series, and reported the following:
On page 69 of Lady of the Eternal City you might think you'd stumbled into a kid's book. A little girl and a little boy have just been introduced, and are sizing each other up. Not, however, as playmates:
“Married,” Annia said instead, dubious. “Us?”

He gave a shrug. “Your father's the richest man in Rome. Or one of them. And my grandfather says I'll need a rich wife.”


“I'm going to be Emperor.” Pedanius said it as a fact. “My grandmother was the Emperor's sister, so I'm his great-nephew.” He gave her a long, superior blink. “You should be honored. Ugly girl like you—”

Annia poked her tongue out.
So this is kind of cute; two kids in ancient Rome being matched up by ambitious adults like little chess pieces. But this scene is important, because it lays the foundation of a burning enmity that is going to power the climax a few hundred pages later. Young Pedanius's arrogance in assuming he will someday be Emperor of Rome (and his assumption that he can therefore have anything he wants, including Annia) are constant themes with his character as he grows up. And Annia's complete failure to be intimidated by Pedanius's pedigree or his rudeness will provide the spark for these two characters—not a spark of attraction, but a spark of hatred. The two kids in this little scene aren't there to be cute; they're there to realize that they are going to grow up and be mortal enemies.

Would a reader keep going, if they opened the book to this page? I hope so, considering that these kids are in a fistfight one page later before being marched back to their parents to discuss the details of their betrothal!
Learn more about the book and author at Kate Quinn's website and blog.

Coffee with a Canine: Kate Quinn and Caesar.

My Book, The Movie: Empress of the Seven Hills.

--Marshal Zeringue