I had not read anything by Fiona Forsyth, but The Third Daughter was recommended to me by a friend, so I decided to see what I was missing.
Rome, 68 BCE.
Julius Caesar begins his controversial career in government.
At the same time, a third daughter, Tertulla, is born to the Junius family on the Palatine Hill.
Tertulla grows up under the guidance of her brother, Marcus Brutus, and her mother Servilia.
When Tertulla discovers that her mother is Caesar's mistress, she begins to wonder who her father might be. Frustratingly, she has more questions than answers.
As Rome descends into a civil war, the young woman realises how compromised and conflicted her mother is - torn between Caesar and the old Roman nobility.
After the civil war, Caesar stands victorious. Rome - and Tertulla - look to find some peace.
But her brother is at the heart of a dangerous conspiracy to assassinate Caesar. The fate of Rome, and Brutus, stand at the crossroads at the Battle of Phillipi. From the ashes of the Republic an Empire is born.
Tertulla, enduring grief and tragedy, still asks the question - was Caesar her father?
The Third Daughter is a novel that explores the mysteries within family, power an politics in the period of Julius Caesar. I was amazed, by many the similarities with current society. But, back to the book.
This is the third novel by the author set in this period and I had not read the previous books. However, I did not feel this affected my enjoyment of the novel. The story is a slow burn rather than an edge of the seat thriller, but it produces a fine mystery.
The story is told from the point of view of Tertulla, whose remarkable life spanned throughout the history of Rome from the end of the Republic through to the days of the Empire under Tiberius. Tertulla was not just a witness to this period of history but was deeply involved in it. She was the daughter of a prestigious family. Her mother, Servilia was Julius Caesar's mistress and her brother was Brutus. Tertulla herself was married to Cassius. The main character, therefore, lived through some of the most dangerous and well known events in Roman times.
The author captures the sights and sounds of ancient Rome from the viewpoint of a woman who knows and loves it well. This makes the story most unusual and particularly interesting. It is a fascinating exploration of power and principle in a time of shifting allegiances, written with an authority that draws in the reader with its attention to historical detail. I thoroughly enjoyed The Third Daughter and will be definitely be looking out for other books by Fiona Forsyth.
Fiona Forsyth studied Classics at Oxford before teaching the subject for 25 years. She lives in Qatar and is also the author of The Emperor’s Servant and Rome’s End.