This book is a carefully crafted glimpse into the daily lives of Ancient Romans. It is not a conventional love story. In fact, love did not even become a possibility until the second half of the book. This fact did not really detract from my appreciation for the novel, but it did require an “attitude adjustment” on my part. I had to stop anticipating the romance, and enjoy the book as historical fiction.
It tells the story of Miranda, a modern scholar of ancient civilizations. She leads a rather colorless life, buried in research and museums, until she is asked to become part of an experiment. This experiment will send her back in time to Ancient Rome, where she is to spend a brief period of time studying whatever is available to her. She is to interact as little as possible with the citizens, and she is to return to the present day, using the implanted device in her arm. Miranda was selected for several reasons - she has no family, she is completely unobtrusive in appearance, and she is an expert on several ancient languages, including Latin and Greek.
The experiment is a success. Miranda finds herself on the shore of Pompeii, in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius, which will erupt in a dozen years, destroying everything she can see. Being teleported into the ocean meant that she had to be rescued by fishermen, who decide to further their wealth by selling her in the local slave market.
Now Miranda finds herself in the midst of a prosperous Roman family. She cannot possibly be a passive observer. How can she keep from causing accidental changes in the grand scheme of the universe? How will she use her superior knowledge to her advantage?
A.D. 62: Pompeii is a compelling work of historic fiction. While there are romantic elements in it, I would have to say that they are low-keyed and subtle. So, if you are looking for nubile slave girls being chased by gladiators in short togas, look somewhere else. Readers who appreciate the research and creativity necessary to bring ancient civilizations to life will enjoy this book.