The Virgin’s Tale is the story of Aemilia, the daughter of a patrician family who is selected to be a Vestal Virgin in Republican Rome. The story begins as Aemilia is buried alive as punishment for breaking her sacred vows. She reflects on her life, beginning with her being offered up by her parents to be a Virgin and tracing her path that led her to this point.
Life as one of Smith's Vestal Virgins is claustrophobic, extremely regimented, and lonely. There wasn't as much romance as I expected and I wish the author had gone into more depth with some of the female relationships in the book. I found Aemelia’s story was quite slow moving and it took me a while to really get into it. However, the book didn’t go in entirely in the direction I expected and by the time I got to part three I couldn’t put it down.
For people who are interested in finding out about the religion of Republican Rome you do get a bit of detail here - enough to get a sense of how complicated and intricate Roman religious traditions were during the Republic.
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