#10Books set in Rome

I, Claudius: from the autobiography of Tiberius Claudius, Emperor of the Romans, born 10 B.C. murdered and deified A.D. 54Historical fiction, a lot of great novels that are out of print ….it’s hard to get a mixture of holiday reading and classics in stock without too many ‘swords and sandals’ titles! Based around books rated very highly by Leeds Libraries readers, here’s some suggestions. And there’s more than 10 …


I, Claudius by Robert Graves From the autobiography of Tiberius Claudius, Emperor of the Romans, born 10 B.C. murdered and deified A.D. 54. Written in the form of Claudius’ autobiography, this is the first part of Roberts Graves’s account of the madness and debauchery of ancient Rome, and stands as one of the most celebrated, gripping historical novels ever written.

The Marble Faun by Nathaniel Hawthorne ‘Often enjoyed by Victorian tourists as a guide to the Eternal City, the book centres around the time spent in Rome by three American artists & their faunlike Italian friend Donatello. In a richly symbolic novel, the characters find their lives thrown into disarray, as a murder entangles their existences forcing them to confront the most awful effects of human impulse’

The Public Image by Muriel Spark Shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1969, it tells the storyof Annabelle Christopher, a glamorous actress adored by her public, who has just moved to Rome with her husband Frederick and her baby son Carl. In a shimmering show business atmosphere, the duplicity of the characters and the strains behind a celebrity obsessed culture are exposed. The public image of Annabelle must be glittery and perfect, attentively cultivated to the smallest detail, including her family, but the reality of her life does not exactly look as smooth as its gleaming surface

Crime, Thriller Blood & beauty

Lost girls of Rome by Donato Carrisi. 5* with Leeds readers A young girl has mysteriously disappeared in Rome. As rain lashes the ancient streets, Clemente and Marcus sit in a cafe and pore over the details of the case. They are members of the ancient Penitenzeri – a unique team linked to the Vatican – and trained in the detection of true evil. Soon, they will uncover a terrible secret

Angels and Demons by Dan Brown Robert Langdon is called upon to identify a mysterious symbol seared onto a dead man’s chest. It belongs to the Illuminati, a secret brotherhood with a vendetta against the Catholic Church

Map of bones by James Rollins 5* with Leeds readers Commander Gray Pierce must lead the elite SIGMA Force on the hunt for the Royal Dragon Court, a clandestine aristocratic fraternity of alchemists dating back to the Middle Ages. Their aim: to establish a new world order using the mystical bones of the Magi

Foreign influence by Brad Thor 5* with Leeds readers Recruited as a field operative in a totally secret and uncompromising new spy agency, former Navy SEAL Scot Harvath is summoned when a bombing in Rome kills a group of American college students. The evidence points to a dangerous colleague from Harvath’s past and a plan for further attacks on an unimaginable scale

 The game by Tom Wood 5* with Leeds readers Victor is the perfect killer. He has no past. He will stop at nothing. He can find you anywhere. In sweltering Algiers, he executes a fellow assassin- when the CIA comes calling, Victor must pose as his victim to identify the dead man’s next mark, a mission that takes him across Europe to the bloody streets of Rome.

Stories, historical

When in Rome by Nicky Pellegrino Rome in the 50s. This is where Serafina calls home. She and her sisters long to meet their matinee idols and Serafina daydreams of Mario Lanza. But the sisters will grow up quickly and for Serafina, a choice opens between the world she knows and the life she dreams of

Blood & beauty by Sarah Dunant 5* with Leeds readers When Rodrigo Borgia buys his way into the papacy, he is defined not just by his wealth or his love for his illegitimate children, but by his blood: he is a Spanish Pope in a city run by Italians. If the Borgias are to triumph, this charismatic politician with an appetite for life, women and power must use papacy and family to succeed

NemesisThe Ragazzi by Pier Paolo Pasolini This is the story of 12-year-old Riccetto growing up in the notorious slums of Monteverde, written by Pasolini was not only an acclaimed film director but also a poet and novelist.

At sea by Laurie Graham 5* with Leeds readers Bernard Finch has come a long way from his small-town American roots. Bernard had some trouble in college, so he flew to Europe, where he enjoyed an agreeable life in Rome. That is, until his lover and protector died, leaving Bernie penniless. It was time to re-invent himself

 Swords and Sandals

The forgotten legion by Ben Kane 5* with Leeds readers also available as an ebook An epic Roman novel of three men and one woman who are bound in servitude to the Republic – an odyssey which begins in Rome, but ends at the very limits of the unknown world, where the forgotten legion fights against overwhelming odds

Nemesis by Lindsey Davis 5* crime In the high summer of 77AD, Roman informer Marcus Didius Falco is beset by personal problems. Newly bereaved and facing unexpected upheavals in his life, it is a relief for him to consider someone elses misfortunes. A middle-aged couple who supplied statues to his father, Geminus, have disappeared in mysterious circumstances. The Silver Pigs is also recommended Marcus Didiua Falco thinks he’s rescuing a girl in distress but all is not what is seems in Ancient Rome’s winding back alleys.