[PDF] Counting the Stars by Helen Dunmore


Free read Counting the Stars

Counting the Stars

Id even of her pet sparrow And Clodia Catullus is 'her dear poet' but possibly not her only interestTheir Rome is a city of extremes Tenants are packed into ramshackle apartment blocks while palatial villas house the magnificence of the families who control Rome Armed street gangs clash in struggles for political power Slaves are the eye. This is a love story launched with sensuality and seduction with infidelity close at hand You find a little beach and slip off your clothes and walk in to the water Water feels uite different night did you know that But of course you must have a friend with you because it s dangerous to bathe alone And your friend walks into the water too and you reach out your arms and find him This is no passing amorous fancy our young poet Catallus is smitten by Cupid s arrow and Helen Dun s novel captures his obsession as it is written from the inside out and through the eyes of the poet the beguiling sensuous and wilful Clodia Metelli flits into view Admired by all for her beauty and ravishing looks and famed for her singing dancing and poetry Clodia is delightfully couettish and the centre of attention amongst Rome s social elite as the breeze blows her silk dress over her body and mounds it to her breast and thighs As always with such women of outstanding beauty so with the charm and sensual looks comes a tantalising whiff of notoriety all the men in her circle gain greater currency by exaggerating the degree of their friendship or indeed even greater intimacy with the notoriously beautiful Roman celebrity Such is the fate of the infamous Clodia and not without good cause as she runs her many lovers uite a dance and poor Catallus is driven by a fiery and unuenchable desireHelen Dun sets up the story with seductive opening chapters in which we have the whiff of incest betrayal and forbidden love and the promise of much to come We have exotic gardens vibrant with the fragrant scent of lavender and verbena and feasting with tables loaded with sumptuous spreads of lobster and prawns and fine chilled wines And with sleepy villas at siesta time and lascivious glances and lecherous thoughts and teasing temptation and sentences soaked with insinuation Debauchery and scandal are seldom far away Helen Dun is a wonderful writer of historical fiction masterful at evoking the past and has wonderful control over events and gives the story a wonderful sense of drama and immediacy The rooms had been sprinkled with fresh water and swept but they still smell of distant lives that weren t being lived here any And with great imaginative power she recreates the sites sounds and smells of distant Rome with its celebrity poets and devious Machiavellian senators and slave girls attentive to their mistresses needs Here I confess my ignorance I didn t know of the Catullus corpus of 116 poems only one copy of his collection of poems survived the ages apparently hidden under a bushel or used as a bung in a barrel in a Verona monastery nor that classical scholars view him as a small time provincial poet from Verona who lived among the great at Rome but never himself attained greatness although his poems have assumed considerable notoriety for their eroticism and sexual excess teeming as they are with anuses penises and stinking armpitsBorn about 84BC Gaius Valerius Catullus moved to Rome and apparently fell in love with the older Clodia Metelli a scion of the ancient influential Claudii family and already the wife of a prominent senator and mother of a daughter Catallus wrote a corpus of works dedicated to Labia and from this premise Helen Dun recreates a work of historical fiction assuming the poems were describing his love for Clodia Metelli She weaves a tale of illicit and possessive love betrayal and jealousy desire incest and lust Catallus was so completely consumed by his own passion and desire that he never doubted Clodia s constancy but he soon discovers the anguish of obsessive love She has other lovers and so demands discretion Their meetings necessarily secret for the most part on account of Clodia s social position took place in a love nest loaned by a friend and so the story carries a tension that the lovers might be discovered at any moment The first half of the story held me and excited my curiosity but the denouement is less than enthralling But the author clearly found great scope in the poems to pen her portrait of Catallus as his Lesbia poems are suffused with lust and anguish and contain great rage and infamy He was outspoken and shameless in his obscene public attacks on his enemies even revered public figures as in Paedicabo ego vos et irrumabo his colourful reply to two companions Furius and Aurelius who had criticised the indecency of his writings I shall fuck you in the ass and I shall fuck you in the mouth The reanimation of the past contains a great deal of speculation and some scholars will view the work as trivialising a great man and celebrated poet But full marks for trying to bring the past to life and for me the novel succeeds The candour of her characterisation and vivid description of time and place is peerless But the story is seen from only one point of view sadly and so we learn little of Clodia s real feelings Certainly she had no intention of confining herself to Catullus alone but only of numbering him as one of her lovers Her story would be an interesting tale as she is much than a femme fatale That s the trouble with you poets It s all very well being brilliant but you end up miserable

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S and ears of everything that goes on while civilization and violence are euals murder is the easy option and poison the weapon of choiceCatallus' relationship with Clodia is one of the most intense passionate tormented and candid in history In love and in hate their story exposes the beauty and terrors of Roman life in the late Republic. Catullus was a controversial figure in the final juiciest years of republican Rome part of a group of new young poets who wrote plainly and scurrilously openly slandering influential figures in their verse such as Caeser himself The Lesbia of Catullus s poems is generally considered to be Clodia Metelli daughter of a patrician family and wife to the conservative consul Metellus Celer She was a notorious adulterer believed to have poisoned her husband and suspected of incest with her brother the populist tribune Publius Clodius Pulcher It sounds like an explosive affair rightUnfortunately you wouldn t know that from the drabness of Dun s narrative This is obviously intended to represent a great love between a poet and his muse a consuming passion where you burn with an uncontrollable fire but Dun s lightweight rendering reduces it to the status of a mere fling a childish cloying indulgence between two empty headed sensualistsThis period is so replete with towering historical figures so rich in drama and intrigue yet save for a second hand account of one of Cicero s most famous orations Dun may just as well have presented an affair between a post master and a vicar s daughter set somewhere in the modern day home counties In addition the constant proliferation of prurient gossipy asides and interjections from a chorus of imaginary citizens really annoyed me only serving to hinder an already exasperating narrativeDun is a successful poet as well as an Orange prize winning novelist so she must have written better than this Mischief and Marriage years of republican Rome part of a group of new Cold Case, Hot Accomplice (Men of Wolf Creek, young poets who wrote plainly and scurrilously openly slandering influential figures in their verse such as Caeser himself The Lesbia of Catullus s poems is generally considered to be Clodia Metelli daughter of a patrician family and wife to the conservative consul Metellus Celer She was a notorious adulterer believed to have poisoned her husband and suspected of incest with her brother the populist tribune Publius Clodius Pulcher It sounds like an explosive affair rightUnfortunately Blackmailed Into the Greek Tycoons Bed (International Billionaires, you wouldn t know that from the drabness of Dun s narrative This is obviously intended to represent a great love between a poet and his muse a consuming passion where Her Husbands Christmas Bargain you burn with an uncontrollable fire but Dun s lightweight rendering reduces it to the status of a mere fling a childish cloying indulgence between two empty headed sensualistsThis period is so replete with towering historical figures so rich in drama and intrigue The Geography of Witchcraft yet save for a second hand account of one of Cicero s most famous orations Dun may just as well have presented an affair between a post master and a vicar s daughter set somewhere in the modern day home counties In addition the constant proliferation of prurient gossipy asides and interjections from a chorus of imaginary citizens really annoyed me only serving to hinder an already exasperating narrativeDun is a successful poet as well as an Orange prize winning novelist so she must have written better than this

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In the heat of Rome's long summer the poet Catullus and his older married lover Clodia Metelli meet in secret Living at the heart of sophisticated brittle and brutal Roman society at the time of Pompey Crassus and Julius Caesar Catullus is obsessed with Clodia the Lesbia of his most passionate poems He is jealous of her husband of her ma. Odi et amo I hate and I love Catullus s ambivalent feelings towards mea puella my girl Clodia poured out in his Lesbia poems This novel is the author s imagining of the course of their passionate affair Catullus is absolutely besotted and obsessed with the woman and she a brutal tease leading him on into the abyss There were a couple of subplots one involving the death of Clodia s husband due to a possible poisoning and Catullus s search to find what poison was used and who might have committed the murder also a section involving Catullus and his loyal freedman Lucius and a possible return to Catullus s home town to manage the family s property after the death of his brother I felt the course of the love affair has been overdone in literature The most interesting part to me was the investigation Even after discovering what kind of woman Clodia is Catullus STILL believes her lies Dun portrayed her as femme fatale practically as a psychopath at least completely amoral selfish manipulative and narcissistic and Catullus a dupe fooling himself caught in her toils I hadn t time for either of them Lucius and Aemilia the slave gained some sympathy The story just flowed with Dun s elegant writing


10 thoughts on “Counting the Stars

  1. says:

    This book follows the historical characters of the poet Catullus and his lover Clodia during the Rome of Julius Caesar Catullus is involved with his scandalous lover who also happens to be married and he's a tortured artist writing po

  2. says:

    Fictional take on the historic love affair between the poet Catullus and Clodia scandal followed sister of rabble rousing and eually notorious Clodius Written in a similar style to The Siege in a third party present tense mainly around one narrator – here Catullus which lends a sense of immediacy and oppression – which

  3. says:

    Odi et amo I hate and I love Catullus's ambivalent feelings towards mea puella my girl Clodia poured out in his Lesbia poems This novel is the author's imagining of the course of their passionate affair Catullus is absolutely besotted and obsessed with the woman and she a brutal tease leading him on into the aby

  4. says:

    Very little is known about the life of the Roman poet Catullus but several of his poems have survived A little

  5. says:

    This is a love story launched with sensuality and seduction with infidelity close at hand‘You find a little beach and slip off your clothes and walk in to the water Water feels uite different night did you know that? But of course you must have a friend with you because it’s dangerous to bathe alone And your friend

  6. says:

    Not for me ended up skipping uite a lot and didn't feel I'd missed much

  7. says:

    Not that keen on this one Didn't care for the characters and had an unfinished feel to the ending

  8. says:

    At first when I started reading this novel I wondered why Helen Dun didn’t tell the story from Clodia’s point of view After all Clodia is a famed woman of the Roman elite born 94 or 95 BC Why not grab at such a chance for us girls? Put the record straight Dun is an accomplished writer across a wide expanse of history Her speciality seems to be to choose an interesting moment in time and then write a book about it

  9. says:

    Catullus was a controversial figure in the final juiciest years of republican Rome part of a group of new young poets who wrote plainly and scur

  10. says:

    I enjoyed this book fairly well but there were often moments that jolted me out of the story There are weird shifts in tense perspec

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