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Persona Non Grata: A Novel of the Roman Empire | [Ruth Downie]

Persona Non Grata: A Novel of the Roman Empire

At long last, Gaius Petreius Ruso and his companion, Tilla, are headed home - to Gaul. Having received a note consisting only of the words "COME HOME!" Ruso has (reluctantly, of course) pulled up stakes and brought Tilla to meet his family. But the reception there is not what Ruso has hoped for: no one will admit to sending for him, and his brother Lucius is hoping he'll leave.
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Publisher's Summary

At long last, Gaius Petreius Ruso and his companion, Tilla, are headed home - to Gaul. Having received a note consisting only of the words "COME HOME!" Ruso has (reluctantly, of course) pulled up stakes and brought Tilla to meet his family. But the reception there is not what Ruso has hoped for: no one will admit to sending for him, and his brother Lucius is hoping he'll leave.

With Tilla getting icy greetings from his relatives, Lucius's brother-in-law mysteriously drowned at sea, and the whole Ruso family teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, it's hard to imagine an unhappier reunion. That is, until Severus, the family's chief creditor, winds up dead, and the real trouble begins.

Engrossing, intricate, and - as always - wonderfully comic, Ruth Downie's latest is a brilliant new installment in this irresistible series. This is everything we've come to expect from our charming, luckless hero.

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend us your ears: listen to another Novel of the Roman Empire.

©2009 Ruth Downie; (P)2009 Tantor

What the Critics Say

"This lively sequel to Medicus and Terra Incognita continues Downie's delightful historical series.... Highly recommended." (Library Journal)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (369 )
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  •  
    Laurie Lebanon, India 10-30-09
    Laurie Lebanon, India 10-30-09 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Well worth the wait!"

    I tend to listen to non-fiction more than fiction, but I am thoroughly engaged by these novels.

    I have (via their websites) nagged both Ms. Downie and Mr. Vance about the release of the audio version of her latest Ruso novel. It is well worth the wait! I enjoy this series so very much -- I have listened to Medicus and Terra Incognita many times.

    I find the protagonists delightfully drawn, and the secondary characters unique and very engaging.
    I missed Albanus in this one, though...his eagerness and simplicity are a wonderful foil for Ruso's cynicism and weariness.

    The environmental background is delightfully portrayed. I felt the dry heat of southern Gaul and, with Tilla, found myself wishing for the cool, moist air of Britannia. Her conclusions about the nature of "civilization" are spot on.

    Mr. Vance's narration is a perfect match for these characters. I can't imagine anyone else doing Ruso. He captures Ruso's gruff manner as well as his well-hidden empathy and heart. In this book he gives well-nuanced voice to the new characters introduced into Ruso's world. I especially enjoyed the tone of his interpretation of Marcia, Ruso's half-sister. He gives her just the right touch of adolescent whining, pouting and rebellion!

    "Gods above!" I rate this as a 5 for sheer enjoyment.



    11 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bruce Nesset Bement, IL USA 12-10-09
    Bruce Nesset Bement, IL USA 12-10-09 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Scriptor est Notus."

    [The author is known] This is the third of Ruth Downie's books, and it has maintained the same high standard. These are fun reading or listening as the case may be and I have all three on my mp3 player. I am awaiting the next installment. If you are a history, historical fiction or love things Roman, it is a great series, written with whit and a bit of irony.

    Bruce

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    january huntersville, NC, United States 03-01-13
    january huntersville, NC, United States 03-01-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Surprisingly entertaining"

    I have never been a fan of historical fiction. I thought, it's either history or it's not. No need to make up stories about things that really happened. I have since changed my mind.

    I started this series when Terra Incognita was featured as a Kindle book for $1.99. I figured, what do I have to lose if I hate a $2 book? Then I couldn't get enough. I wanted to find out what happened to Tilla, a very likable and strong willed woman.

    I honestly couldn't care less about the male characters in this series. Most of them seem flat and boring, except for the evil ones. Tilla is interesting and complicated. Not to say this is a book that makes you think or feel. It's just a good story that entertains. It's fun.

    As for the people who have said that it is not historically accurate, I say, ppptttthhhhhtttt.... Who cares? We don't know much about that time anyway. The Roman's only wrote from the conquering heroes point of view, and the Celts didn't write about it, or anything else. So Ms. Downie has some room to fill in the blanks.

    These are good books. Read them for what they are worth and you will enjoy them.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    L. Williams Philadelphia, PA USA 07-10-10
    L. Williams Philadelphia, PA USA 07-10-10 Member Since 2005
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    "The Best Ruso Book To Date"

    As a fan of Lindsey Davis and Stephen Saylor, I am thrilled to have found Ruth Downie. In her third book featuring Roman medicus during the reign of Hadrian, she takes it to the next level. The first two books were enjoyable, but this volume is in an entirely different league. The change of setting from Roman Britain to Transalpine Gaul (modern Provence), takes Ruso into the bosom of his very dysfunctional family (who had been alluded to in previous books). While it's possible to read this book as a stand-alone, I would highly recommend reading the books in order in order to appreciate the characters' histories and development. I have a background in Classical History, and while I won't pretend there aren't some anachronistic elements, I was impressed by how much research Ms. Downie must have done to recreate the period. Unlike the more free-thinking Falco of Lindsey Davis's books, Ruso seems more a product of his era and culture.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan Marietta, GA, United States 05-12-10
    Susan Marietta, GA, United States 05-12-10 Member Since 2010

    I've become an avid "reader" since I discovered audiobooks a few years ago. Also a cat lover - at left is Prince Harold

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Thank you Ruth"

    Knew nothing about this book when I picked it - just sounded interesting. I"ve always thought I'd like to read something about Ancient Rome (or Tudor England or Egypt under the Pharoahs} that dealt with everyday life and relatively ordinary people. To be sure, this is a murder- mystery, but it's full of everyday occurrences - meals and broken feet and shopping and petty grievances. The characters come across after about 2000 years as fellow human beings. Ruso is likeable even though he's irascible and Tilla is an incredibly strong and down-to earth woman. There's much humor woven into the fabric of this story which really enlivens it. The only difficulty that I had in reading this was keeping the characters straight - maybe because of the unfamiliar names, but it was hard for me to remember the connections between the characters, All in all, a very enjoyable read. I plan to get the other 2 in the series.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marie ALEXANDRIA, VA, United States 01-20-12
    Marie ALEXANDRIA, VA, United States 01-20-12 Member Since 2011
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    "The best so far"

    A treat to listen to. The story moved well and surprising twists kept the reader guessing. Each book has gotten better. I am looking forward to the next. I would have given the story a 5 but I agree with some others that the setting could easily be changed to another time period except for a few details. The Roman aspect could be stronger.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pam Methuen, MA, United States 09-22-10
    Pam Methuen, MA, United States 09-22-10 Member Since 2008
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    "Humorous and Witty, Delightful Narration"

    This fun historical mystery novel comes alive with Simon Vance's narration. Ruth Downie's writing puts a sometimes amusing face on life in the Roman Empire despite its darker aspects. Downie created engaging characters with distinct personalities and a decent mystery plot. Honestly though, I enjoyed the characters and their dryly humorous interactions well highlighted by the stellar narration so much that the plot felt more like a side show. A very pleasant listen.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jean Santa Cruz, CA, United States 09-01-13
    Jean Santa Cruz, CA, United States 09-01-13 Member Since 2010

    I am an avid eclectic reader.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A trip to Gaul"

    This is book 3 in the series and finds Gaius Petreius Ruso with a fractured foot and given medical leave. He receives a urgent letter from his bother to come home immediately. He and Tilla go to his family home in Gaul to find that his brother did not send for him but the families major creditor (Severus), who is married to Claudia, Ruso ex-wife did so. Downie weaves a complex plot of ship wrecks, murder of Severus, thief, along with some witty humor of a dysfunctional family. Ruso and Tilla are trying to solve the murder of Severus. Tilla has some adventures of her own from stomping grapes in a vat with another slave; to going with Ruso's sister-in-law, Cate to a near by town hunting for information on Justin (Cate's brother) who was missing in a ship wreck. Tilla and Cate get into a dangerous situation while questioning sailors in a shady waterfront bar and Tilla ends up killing a man. Needless to say there is lots of action, suspense, humor and information about the countryside and lifestyle in Gaul at that time. Downie provides interesting description of the games in the Coliseum and Ruso as the physician to the wounded gladiators. Simon Vance does a great job with the narration. Looking forward to the next book in the series.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert Piedmont, CA, United States 11-05-12
    Robert Piedmont, CA, United States 11-05-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Simon Vance is great!!!"
    If you could sum up Persona Non Grata in three words, what would they be?

    Enjoyable listen - and funny too!


    What about Simon Vance’s performance did you like?

    Simon Vance does a beautiful job covering all of the voices. He keeps a perfect cadence in his reading ... never rushing it but always drawing out the situational ironies (which Ruth Downie does so beautifully).


    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ginger Tyrone, PA, United States 05-31-10
    Ginger Tyrone, PA, United States 05-31-10 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Roman Mystery?"

    When the summary of Persona Non Grata mentioned a Roman setting, I was expecting a story a bit more "historical" in nature. However, this story (with the exception of gladiators) could have been set in any time period or culture. However, I still enjoyed the mystery and would read something from this author in the future.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
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