It’s always a bit weird when you read or watch something where you already know the basic storyline. I thought that when I saw Macbeth – hell, I know half the lines of the play, but I still got into the presentation of the thing. So reading a novel about the eruption of Vesuvius, and the happenings around the Bay, was quite funny, because obviously you know the main thing that is going to happen, but it’s how Robert Harris (the author) gets there that’s the interesting thing.
And he did do a very good job, I think. The engineer was an excellent idea for the main character, because he’s obviously going to have a stake in finding out what’s happening on the mountain. And he’s just a great guy. I was very happy that Harris included Pliny – I mean, obviously you you have to, but I was a bit concerned about how he would come across. I had never thought that he would be fat – I always imagined him to be emaciated if anything, obsessed with science and writing – but his eye for detail – which he must have had for real, to write his books – comes across very clearly. Someone should write a bio of him, I reckon, if it hasn’t been done yet.
Anyway, it’s a good read (I read the whole thing in a day or so). The variety of characters was good, although some of them are caricatures (which is, sometimes, fun).