- Style – Enthralling children’s adventure set in Ancient Rome
- Beachy/Worthy – It’s a great story but the history’s all there too
- Authenticity – I strongly doubt that Caroline Lawrence ever spent any time living in Ancient Rome. However, she did do a degree in Classics, and I’m convinced that the research behind this story has been meticulous.
The Thieves of Ostia is the first in a series of seventeen children’s novels, all following the adventures of a Roman girl called Flavia Gemima and her three friends. Whilst the stories have fast plots with strong child/teenager appeal, the geographic and historical setting is absolutely meticulously done (Ostia was the main port for Rome), and they’re great for bringing Roman Italy to life. Each of the four main characters helps to shed light on real life in Roman times – for example, the purchase of slaves, and Flavia considering marriage when she has only just become a teenager. If you’re worried that the architecture of Rome will be a bit too dry for your children to appreciate, sharing this novel with them will be a great way to bring it to life.
If you’re travelling to Rome, with or without a family, I’d recommend taking The Thieves of Ostia to read on the journey. Other books in the series are set in different parts of Italy – if you’re visiting Pompeii try The Secrets of Vesuvius, or if you’re visiting Sorrento you might like to try The Sirens of Surrentum.