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Counting the Stars by Helen Dunmore
Counting the Stars is set in ancient Rome in the time of Julius Caesar and chronicles the affair between the poet Catullus and his amoral married lover Clodia. Catullus is obsessed with her and she becomes the Lesbia of his poems. This obsession leads to jealousy of everything else that takes her attention from him, including her other lovers, real and imagined, and even her maid and pet bird. It's a time of tumult in Rome with rivalries among armed gangs and private armies, spies, and assassinations. It's a passionate affair in a passionate time with little possibility that it can end well. Helen Dunmore's novel has received mixed reviews with the London Times saying, "Dunmore’s strengths as a novelist have always included her skill in sensuous description and her ability to convey the promises and the dangers of erotic love. The Rome she has so vividly realised in Counting the Stars provides a new stage on which to display those strengths."