Review: I am Livia / by Madeleine

I am Livia is the story of Livia Drusilla, one of the most powerful women in Ancient Rome and the wife of Augustus Caesar. Livia grows up privileged in the house of her powerful aristocratic father. She is educated, well-informed, and not afraid to speak her mind. To her mother's chagrin, she doesn't act like a well-tempered Roman woman should. Shortly after Livia is married to one of her father's allies, Livia's father is exposed as one of the Senators involved in the assassination of Julius Caesar, putting their family in a precarious position and forcing them to flee. Rome is plunged into civil war as Octavius, Caesar's adopted heir, battles for power over his newly formed empire. In the meantime, Livia struggles to survive with her new husband and baby. When her family returns to Rome, Livia finds herself rediscovering the strange attraction that she has for Octavius. Soon she finds herself wed to the new Caesar and at the helm of Rome, with a greater influence than she could have ever imagined.

I picked this to read on my kindle for a recent trip because I love this period in history. In January, I read this book and loved it, but Livia was portrayed in a negative light in that story and I was curious to read a different perspective. Though Livia and Cleopatra were at opposite ends of the battle between Octavius and Marc Antony, I admire them both for the power they wielded and the influence they had in a time when women were usually forced into the background. It was impressive how knowledgeable Livia was when it came to the politics of Rome, but I also loved how her character was so real. She frets about her relationship with her husband, her ability to be a good mother, and the well-being of her people. This is one that I'd recommend only for those who already have an interest in Ancient Rome, as it was a fun historical-fiction read but not one that will make it on my favorites list.

Bottom Line Rating: 3/5


  • Title: I am Livia
  • Author: Phyllis T. Smith
  • Publisher: Lake Union Publishing, 2014
  • Price: $10 on Amazon
  • ASIN: B00EZCY0LO
  • Format: E-book
  • Source: Amazon Kindle Store