Virgil’s epic poem, The Aeneid, is about the Trojan hero Aeneas who survives the fall of the city and eventually makes his way to Italy where he marries a Latin woman by the name of Lavinia. This book is her story. Lavinia is the daughter and only child of the Latin king. Any man who marries her inherits the kingdom and the suitors are numerous. However, a ghost and a prophecy proclaim that she will marry a foreigner and plunge the realm into war.
Lavinia is a blending of myth and historical fiction. The mythological element is very strong reflecting the religious views of the early Italian peoples. Religious rites as well as omens and prophecies play a large part in the story. While the author admittedly takes a few liberties with the society’s sophistication, the historical aspect is incredibly accurate. Characters are also exceptionally well done, almost equal to Christopher Priest’s skill. All this combines to make the reader feel they are really present in a slightly mythical ancient Italy.
Anyone who likes historical fiction will enjoy this book set in the time prior to the rise of Rome. Strongly recommended.