The stunning seaside resort of Herculaneum happens to be one of the most exotic and appealing places on Earth. It is home to people from all walks of life, all social statuses, and boasts breathtaking views and lucrative businesses. Even those who have little manage to have a full and happy life in Herculaneum. What many there seem to forget is its beauty is overshadowed daily by its position relative to the one thing that can change the lives of every man, woman, and child who dwell there. Herculaneum, its residents, and all of their hopes and dreams lie adjacent and vulnerable to Mount Vesuvius.
Herculaneum: Paradise Lost, by Lorraine Blundell, details the events leading up to, and the eruption of, Vesuvius and the lives most impacted by the tragic event. Blundell includes a large cast of characters who, at the outset, seem unrelated. From the beginning the book reads like short stories all loosely related, but by the book’s ending, the author pulls the characters together and unites their seemingly disconnected plots.
Though several of Blundell’s characters have subplots based on intrigue, I felt that there was a lack of one single overarching climax to the story. That being said, the cast of characters are interesting enough to keep readers engaged and invested in the plot.
Set in 78 AD, Blundell’s work is an easy and engaging read. For a time period known for vibrant language, this particular book reads smoothly and the author’s choice of verbiage is uncomplicated and lends itself well to the characters’ varied plots. In rare moments there were phrases like “fast food” that I thought were out of place, however these moments were few and far between and only stood out because of the rich and powerful language utilized so expertly throughout the rest of the novel.
Though Prima isn’t necessarily set as Blundell’s main character, I was left with the impression that hers was one of the most striking subplots. The almost positive spin the book puts on her job as a prostitute flows well with the idea that Herculaneum is a virtual paradise where everyone is happy and fulfilled no matter their choices in life. The turnaround Prima is able to make with her life–her second chance–is a beautiful metaphor for new beginnings.
Anyone who enjoys an element of history in their dramatic fiction story will enjoy Blundell’s work. Herculaneum: Paradise Lost is a fantastic and quick read with poignant lines, rich characters, and a powerful message.
Pages: 238 | ASIN: B084JCM3RT