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Lucretia   By: (1803-1873)

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Lucretia, penned by Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, is a captivating work of historical fiction that transports readers back to the turbulent times of Ancient Rome. With its rich tapestry of characters, intricate plotlines, and evocative descriptions, this novel successfully envelops readers in a world of political intrigue, love, and treachery.

Set during the Roman Republic, the story revolves around the eponymous character, Lucretia. She is a beautiful and resilient young woman, married to a nobleman in the ranks of Senatorial power. However, the narrative quickly delves into the moral quagmire that threatens Lucretia's seemingly idyllic marriage. As her husband becomes entangled in a web of corruption and betrayal, Lucretia finds herself caught up in the dangerous and unpredictable world of Roman politics.

Bulwer-Lytton masterfully weaves together the personal and political, expertly intertwining the fates of his characters with the larger events of the time, such as the notorious Punic Wars. Through vivid descriptions and meticulous attention to historical detail, he brings the ancient city of Rome vividly to life, painting a vivid portrait of the city-state's complexities and contradictions.

What truly distinguishes Lucretia is its exploration of gender dynamics in Ancient Rome. Bulwer-Lytton presents a refreshing take on female agency and empowerment, juxtaposing the manipulative actions of the male characters with the resilience and cunning of Lucretia. The author offers a nuanced portrayal of the challenges faced by women in a patriarchal society, highlighting their strength and determination despite their limited freedom.

The pacing of the novel is well-balanced, keeping readers engaged and eager to discover what lies around the next corner. Each chapter adds a layer of suspense, propelling the story forward and heightening the stakes for Lucretia. The complexity of the plot, with its intertwining storylines and intricately drawn characters, showcases the author's formidable storytelling skills.

If there is any critique to be made, it is that some of the supporting characters could have been further developed, as their potential was sometimes overshadowed by the primary narrative. Additionally, the dense historical context might be overwhelming at times for readers less familiar with Ancient Rome. However, these are minor quibbles in what is overall a compelling and immersive read.

Lucretia by Edward George Bulwer-Lytton is a tour de force in historical fiction. With its engaging characters, intricate plot, and vivid depiction of ancient Rome, this novel will undoubtedly captivate lovers of both history and fiction. This book is a testament to Bulwer-Lytton's talent, as he skillfully explores the complexities of power, morality, and the resilient human spirit. A must-read for anyone seeking an enticing and illuminating journey into the past.

First Page:


By Edward Bulwer Lytton


"Lucretia; or, The Children of Night," was begun simultaneously with "The Caxtons: a Family Picture." The two fictions were intended as pendants; both serving, amongst other collateral aims and objects, to show the influence of home education, of early circumstance and example, upon after character and conduct. "Lucretia" was completed and published before "The Caxtons." The moral design of the first was misunderstood and assailed; that of the last was generally acknowledged and approved: the moral design in both was nevertheless precisely the same. But in one it was sought through the darker side of human nature; in the other through the more sunny and cheerful: one shows the evil, the other the salutary influences, of early circumstance and training. Necessarily, therefore, the first resorts to the tragic elements of awe and distress, the second to the comic elements of humour and agreeable emotion. These differences serve to explain the different reception that awaited the two, and may teach us how little the real conception of an author is known, and how little it is cared for; we judge, not by the purpose he conceives, but according as the impressions he effects are pleasurable or painful. But while I cannot acquiesce in much of the hostile criticism this fiction produced at its first appearance, I readily allow that as a mere question of art the story might have been improved in itself, and rendered more acceptable to the reader, by diminishing the gloom of the catastrophe... Continue reading book >>

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