February 1, 2004
POMPEII, by Robert Harris (Random House, 2003). The last big book about Pompeii was by the Victorian novelist Edward Bulwer-Lytton, best known for penning Snoopy’s immortal line, “it was a dark and stormy night.” It’s about time that someone returned to the great explosion of Vesuvius, and Robert Harris has done just that. POMPEII is a splendid historical page-turner, with (naturally) a real bang-up ending. The story is told from the viewpoint of a Roman aquarius trying to get his broken aqueduct flowing again, but my favorite character was Pliny the Elder, who stole every scene that he appeared in. Well worth a read, for those who like historicals.