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The Unwilling Vestal   By: (1866-1934)

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The Unwilling Vestal by Edward Lucas White is a captivating historical fiction novel that delves into the complex world of ancient Rome. Set during a time of political turmoil and religious conflict, White seamlessly weaves together a tale of love, duty, and sacrifice.

The story revolves around Claudia, a young woman who is forced into becoming a Vestal Virgin against her will. As a Vestal, she must uphold the sacred flame of Vesta and remain chaste for thirty years. However, Claudia's heart belongs to Lucius, a Roman soldier, and she struggles to reconcile her duties as a Vestal with her forbidden love. White does an exceptional job of portraying Claudia's internal turmoil, as she battles against a society that separates her from the life she desires.

White's writing style is rich and descriptive, painting a vivid picture of ancient Rome and immersing the reader in its sights, sounds, and smells. His attention to detail brings the setting to life, capturing the grandeur and decadence of the Roman empire. Moreover, the author's meticulous research is evident throughout the novel, as he incorporates accurate historical events and customs seamlessly into the narrative.

The characters in The Unwilling Vestal are well-developed and relatable, each struggling with their own desires and dilemmas. Claudia is a strong, independent protagonist who defies societal expectations, making her a compelling and endearing character. The supporting cast, including Lucius and Claudia's fellow Vestals, adds depth and complexity to the story, enhancing the overall reading experience.

One of the novel's greatest strengths is how it explores the clash between religious traditions and personal desires. The tension between duty and love is palpable, drawing the reader deeper into Claudia's emotional journey. White skillfully explores the complexities of faith and the sacrifices individuals make in the name of religion, evoking thought-provoking questions about the nature of devotion and the pursuit of happiness.

Despite its strengths, The Unwilling Vestal does have its shortcomings. At times, the pacing felt uneven, with certain sections feeling rushed while others dragged on. Additionally, some readers may find the historical details overwhelming, as White delves into intricate aspects of Roman culture. However, those with an interest in ancient history will likely appreciate the author's attention to detail.

In conclusion, The Unwilling Vestal is a captivating and well-crafted historical fiction novel that takes readers on a journey through ancient Rome. White's evocative writing style, well-developed characters, and exploration of themes such as love, duty, and faith make this book a worthy addition to any historical fiction enthusiast's collection. Despite some pacing issues and information overload, the novel offers a compelling tale and a fascinating glimpse into the world of ancient Rome.

First Page:


The Unwilling Vestal A Tale of Rome under the Caesars


EDWARD LUCAS WHITE Author of "El Supremo"

This book presents, for the first time in fiction, a correct and adequate account of the Vestal Virgins, their powers and privileges, as well as of many strange Roman customs and beliefs.

The author combines the power of writing a rattling good story with a sound and full knowledge of conditions of the life which he is depicting. Mr. White brings to the history of Rome all the picturesqueness and power which made his South American novel, "El Supremo," so remarkable. The result is a vivid pageant of imperial Rome and Roman life at the height of its power and splendor.

End of Jacket Blurb


Readers of who are not acquainted at first hand with the lighter and more intimate literature of the Romans may be surprised to discover that the lights of Roman high society talked slang and were interested in horseracing. Most writers who have tried to draw Roman society for us have been either ignorant or afraid of these facts. The author of is neither. He presents to us the upper class Romans exactly as they reveal themselves in the literature of their day; excitable, slangy, sophisticated and yet strangely credulous, enthusiastic sportsmen, hearty eaters and drinkers, and unblushingly keen on the trail of the almighty denarius... Continue reading book >>

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