Reading progress update: I've read 50 out of 250 pages.

The Emperor's Babe: A Novel - Bernardine Evaristo

I've read this before; it was the only absolutely unputdownable book written in verse I had ever come across. Now, on the second reading, I am taking it slowly and loving it even more.

 

From the blurb:

Londinium, AD 211.

A city of slum tenements and sumptuous villas, of orgy queens, drag queens and drama queens. A city where the currency is often sex, where children go to work aged five and marriage is a career move.

Through the bustling city we follow Zuleika - feisty and precocious daughter of Sudanese immigrants made good. Married off at eleven to Felix, a rich Roman three times her age perpetually away on business, Zuleika drifts about his villa, bored, until one night, several years later when Septimius Severus, the Roman Emperor newly arrived in town, spots her at the theatre ...

 

From p27:

Till Death Do Us

The white stucco villas of Cheapside

are usually out of bounds to scallywags

 

like me and Alba. Guards shoo us away.

(She has not been invited.) Today

 

they bow as if I were the emperor's wife,

when my horse-drawn carriage, if you please,

 

arrives at a villa with its very own latrina,

and enough rooms to fill the Forum.

 

Janus-faced gits! I am the same girl

I was last week. Or am I?