Last year I became a graduate with a degree in Ancient History and History. I loved it, and the main reason I decided to study the degree was because it included the ancient world. However, I was not exposed to the world of Classics or Ancient History whilst I was at school. So why would I become so interested in the subject? The answer to this question is the work of Caroline Lawrence and her Roman Mysteries.

I’m not a bookworm, but Lawrence’s books appealed to my love of solving mysteries and history. The series consist of seventeen books that follow the life and adventures of Flavia Gemini and her friends Nubia, Jonathon and Lupus. Each book consists of the foursome solving mysteries and surviving Ancient Roman life. Lawrence includes the eruption of Vesuvius and the slave trade, the Twelve Labours of Hercules and famous figures such as Pliny the Elder and a young Julius Caesar. Lawrence’s attention to detail about the ancient world turns her books from mediocre children tales into complex stories.

Lawrence’s inclusion of strong yet realistic female characters is another reason why her books resonate with her reader. The four main characters cover all aspects of Roman society. There’s a slave girl, a Jewish refugee, a mute orphan boy and the daughter of a wealthy sea captain. But the girls, Nubia and Flavia, are complex characters. Lawrence allows her readers to grow alongside the duo. They are by no means perfect, but they are realistic. Flavia throws tantrums, falls in love and makes several ill-advised decisions. But she is likable and you instantly feel a connection with her. Nubia grows from a timid slave to a strong companion who saves the group through her resilience. These girls are not damsels in distress or perfect superhumans, but rather girls that you can see yourself becoming friends with.

Lawrence’s clever weaving of history and mystery allowed me to become immersed in the ancient world. I would recommend these books for readers of all ages, not only because they are the outstanding work of a female author, but also because Flavia and Nubia could inspire other girls like they inspired myself.

-Lucy Bickley
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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