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The Last Days of Pompeii

Cover: 'The Last Days of Pompeii'

Staff Review: "The Last Days of Pompeii" by Edward Bulwer-Lytton


You may think you know the eventual outcome: everyone dies, right? There can’t be much suspense in that! But do they? The story’s climax takes place, as the title suggests, just days before Vesuvius erupts. By then, our heroes and villains are caught in a complex web of actions and counteractions ostensibly dealt out by Fate.

The Last Days of Pompeii by the Right Honourable Lord Lytton (otherwise known as Edward Bulwer-Lytton) is a classic Gothic romance. The author’s rich descriptions take readers everywhere in Pompeii from fashionable parties given by the rich (which, despite the setting, bear a resemblance to English dinner parties), to the temple of Isis and to the cave of a sorceress, from a meeting of early Christians to the amphitheatre for a classic gladiator fight.

To those in the 21st century, the destruction of Pompeii seems cold and distant, relegated to a realm of history disconnected from the present era, but Lytton shows us a world like ours, brimming with passions—love, jealousy, selfishness, deceit, repentance. In the words of Lytton: “We love to feel within us the bond which unites the most distant eras…The past lives again when we look upon its emotions—it lives in our own! That which was, ever is!” In this work, the author achieves what he set out to do and brings readers close to the personalities of the past.

I recommend this book to readers looking for an escape from iPhones and Facebook to a world where lovers while away the hours in song on a halcyon sea.


Audience: adults | Genre: historical fiction

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