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Reviewed by Ruffina Oserio for Readers' Favorite
I, Claudia: A Novel of the Ancient World by Lin Wilder is one of the fascinating books I have read — wonderful historical references, Christian and mythological underpinnings, with strong considerations of some of the troubling spiritual questions of all time. Born in Delphi and daughter of the last of the Oracles of Pythia, Claudia Procula is the wife of Lucius Pontius Pilate, who decides to share her story. Her husband already dead for several decades, Claudia lifts the veil and offers readers a unique version of events they have read in history and from a surprising perspective, that of the wife of one of the key players in the drama of the agony and death of Jesus.
This narrative captures the early culture of the Jewish people and the friction between the religious authorities and the Romans. One interesting element is the portrait of Pontius Pilate, which is different from what popular literature has created of the man. “Like me, Lucius is the subject of vast ignorance, lies, and injustice. The very name Pontius Pilate has become synonymous with cowardice and betrayal.” The narrative from the perspective of the protagonist is powerful, even absorbing. Lin Wilder allows the story to flow through the words of the daughter of an Oracle, a voice that reflects something deep and mysterious. Listen to how she describes herself: “I am nearing the end of my life. Seventy-nine years lived as a shadow, a face behind a curtain, whispering the residues of a dream. Insubstantial, unheard. But my time of silence is done.” The use of biblical allusion, religious symbolism, and mythology transforms the narrative and creates a spiritual atmosphere that is intriguing and exciting.
The prose in I, Claudia: A Novel of the Ancient World is gorgeous and the author’s language reflects the setting. Beautiful scenes greet the reader’s mental gaze, from the bustling surroundings to the day-to-day lifestyle in the house of Pilate. Beautifully paced, ingeniously plotted, and skillfully written, this novel is a page-turner for both fans of historical personages and narratives with strong religious themes. The author did the research thoroughly, but it is how the results of that research are woven into the story that will wow most readers.