I am Livia by Phyllis T. Smith

Posted April 30, 2014 by Lillian in Reviews / 1 Comment

Today I wanted to share with you a book I received for free through the Amazon Prime program Kindle First. If you aren’t aware of this program, it’s pretty cool. Each month, Amazon chooses four books that will be released on the first of the next month and offers them to Prime members. You can only choose one, but still a free book is a good book to me 🙂

My choice this month was a historical fiction piece about the real life lady Livia Drusilla. Livia was the wife of Augustus Caesar and the grandmother of Cladius. Roman history fascinates me, and when I saw that this book is partly based on facts I instantly chose it over the others. And it most certainly did not disappoint me! If you enjoy historical fiction, a little romance, a lot of suspense and stories told in an epic format you will enjoy this one.

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
I am Livia by Phyllis T. SmithI Am Livia by Phyllis T. Smith
Published by Lake Union Publishing on May 1, 2014
Length: 391 pages
Reviewing eBook from Amazon

Her life would be marked by scandal and suspicion, worship and adoration…

At the tender age of fourteen, Livia Drusilla overhears her father and fellow aristocrats plotting the assassination of Julius Caesar. Proving herself an astute confidante, she becomes her father’s chief political asset—and reluctantly enters into an advantageous marriage to a prominent military officer. Her mother tells her, “It is possible for a woman to influence public affairs,” reminding Livia that—while she possesses a keen sense for the machinations of the Roman senate—she must also remain patient and practical.

But patience and practicality disappear from Livia’s mind when she meets Caesar’s heir, Octavianus. At only eighteen, he displays both power and modesty. A young wife by that point, Livia finds herself drawn to the golden-haired boy. In time, his fortunes will rise as Livia’s family faces terrible danger. But her sharp intellect—and her heart—will lead Livia to make an unbelievable choice: one that will give her greater sway over Rome than she could have ever foreseen.

I knew this would be a good book when I started it and before the first chapter there was a list of key characters. Always a good sign 🙂 This is historical fiction at its best. I personally have always been fascinated by ancient Rome and this particular story centers around Livia Drusilla, the wife of Augustus Caesar. I’m not sure what I expected when I started this book, but now that I have read it, all historical fiction after will be ranked according to this one.

I Am Livia by Phyllis T. Smith is a memoir about the life and loves of Livia Drusilla. Told in first person POV, Livia at the ripe old age of 86 begins to tell the story of her life and how it began with her at the age of 14 overhearing her father planning the death of Julius Caesar. From there the story is captivating and moves quickly.

I wonder sometimes how I will be remembered. As mother of my country, as men call me to my face, or as a monster?

At first, I wasn’t sure if I would like Livia, but I fell in love with her. Well-educated and loyal to a fault, she follows her father like all daughters do. She does as he asks, entering a loveless marriage at 14 and even follows his ideals about a free Republic. However, she adapts to her situation and the situation of Rome, and begins to make her own choices. If you’ve ever heard the phrase “a man is the head of the house, but the woman is the neck and can turn the head in whichever way she prefers”, it depicts Livia perfectly. She excelled at this skill, letting her husbands and other men believe it was their choice, not her suggestion. Yet despite that, I could not hate her. The author wrote with such grace about the reasoning behind all of Livia’s decisions that I could see myself making those same choices and mistakes as she did. Men like to say that women are ruled by emotions, but it’s those emotions that dictate our actions and the author depicts this with Livia well.

I really liked and loathed the other characters accordingly. Tiberius Nero, Livia’s first husband who in today’s standards was old enough to be her father when they wed, was an excellent character. He was kind, loving, and though Livia didn’t return her feelings for him until near their divorce, he never questioned her loyalty for him. I really liked him but in a brotherly way. Tavius, or as we know him from the history books Augustus Caesar, had a charismatic personality and I was instantly drawn/attracted to him as Livia was. He held a certain charm and with his ease of words won the Roman people’s hearts. It is no wonder that with Livia at his side, he was unstoppable.

The main focus of this story centered around the ten or so years following the death/assassination of Julius Caesar and the events that affected Livia’s life and family. It’s a wonderful portrayal of the Roman empire during it’s heyday. Also a sweet, romantic story of finding love with the one person you are destined for. Livia says they were two pieces of a puzzle, only complete together. It was a beautiful story, told as a great Roman epic, with modern vernacular which helped with the ease of reading it.

Overall, I truly enjoyed this story. It was emotional to say the least and I most certainly cried several times with Livia. But I loved it! While reading, it reminded me of the old TV movies about ancient Rome, except for once the main character of this Roman tell was a woman, not a man. This story is the tell of the woman behind Caesar, and I for one truly enjoyed every word! If you like historical fictions with a touch of romance and a lot of suspense, you will enjoy this book!

About Phyllis T. Smith

Phyllis T. Smith was born and currently lives in Brooklyn, New York. After obtaining a bachelor's degree from Brooklyn College and a master's degree from New York University, Phyllis pursued a practical career in computer applications training, yet found herself drawn to literature and art of the ancient world. I Am Livia is her first novel. She has another novel set in ancient Rome in the works.

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One response to “I am Livia by Phyllis T. Smith

  1. […] I Am Livia by Phyllis T. Smith – Historical fiction is my vice and this book tells the story of Livia, better known as the wife of Octavius Caesar, the first emperor of Rome. I this book so much!!!!! I couldn’t sit it down. It’s based in ancient Rome and starts with the assassination of Julius Caesar. It’s a tale of revenge and love and heartbreak as a young Octavius Caesar, nephew of Julius, vows to kill all who plotted against Caesar until he falls in love with a young girl who’s family was a part of it. The book has stood out in my mind and has me aching to read more period pieces from that era. […]

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