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Household Gods by Judith Tarr

Household Gods (original 1999; edition 2000)

by Judith Tarr, Harry Turtledove

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4421823,705 (3.63)23
Title:Household Gods
Authors:Judith Tarr
Other authors:Harry Turtledove
Info:Tor Fantasy (2000), Mass Market Paperback, 672 pages
Collections:Your library, Read but unowned
Tags:Read, Read in 2012, Time Travel and/or Reincarnation

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Household Gods by Judith Tarr (1999)


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» See also 23 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
I found this time travel tale to be a bit disappointing. It's the story of Nicole Gunther-Perrin, a single mom living and working in L.A., who unknowingly makes a wish to the Roman gods Liber and Libera. The gods grant her desire to live back in the simpler days of ancient Rome and she awakens in the body of Umma, a single mom living and working in Carnuntum, a Roman frontier town by the Danube River. Of course, there's culture shock and, of course, the reader gets a history lesson about everyday life in ancient times. The weakness of the book is that there's more of that than there is a story.

The tale starts with a very bad day in 1990's L.A.. After a few pages of well crafted detail, the tsuris goes over the top. Nicole makes her wish and then wakes up to discover the Second Century. She seems to go through every experience on could imagine--the bad hygiene, life without modern technology, gender inequality, slavery, pestilence, famine, and barbarian invasion. There's no real progression of plot or character, save that Nicole realizes that the 20th Century wasn't so bad a place to live after all. Now if the characters were more appealing, I might have been willing to forgive that. But Nicole is rather uninspiring. I might have even liked the book better if she had been killed off earlier and the supporting characters took over the tale.
--J. ( )
  Hamburgerclan | Nov 23, 2014 |
It took me a long time to get into this one, but once I did, I enjoyed it. The protaganist is a type of person all to real and to distasteful to me (i.e., a certain stereotype overachieving yet uncontemplative modern american woman)... That said, once I felt like the story really got going and the character started to engage and not just react with her world--it became very interesting. Oddly, the book has left me feeling both somewhat justified in my distaste for the stereotype, and also more sympathetic to it.

NOTE: Borrowed from the Anne Arundel County Library

(2014 Review #16)
  bohannon | Sep 23, 2014 |
It was interesting as any other life reconstructed from Archaeology and dealing with the minutiae of Single parenthood in the Danubian Provinces of the high days of the Roman Empire. I hope neither writer views this as their best work. ( )
  DinadansFriend | Nov 22, 2013 |
Nicole, In her fantasies, she thinks about a simpler time and makes a wish to a statue of a Roman god that she could go back to the simple, happy days when the statue was made.

She wakes up the next morning smelling the incredible stench of a Roman city and speaking Latin. She's as ignorant of history as most people, but soon figures out that she's living in a time after Julius Caesar and before the Fall of the Roman Empire. Beyond that…who knows? ( )
  velvetink | Mar 31, 2013 |
An entertaining story. A modern, divorced, female lawyer yearns for the "good old days" and her wish is granted by a bored, minor, Roman god. She awakens back in the ancient Roman empire, during the reign of Marcus Aurelius, who she meets as he passes through her town on his way to repel the invading Germans.

All is not as it seems from two millennia distant. Life in the ancient world is hard with lots of work, plus many minor unpleasantries. After a year(?) or so the protagonist begs the gods to return her to her "normal" life, which is granted. She awakens form a coma to find that only a few days have gone by, but her knowledge of Latin has stayed with her.

A good read, T at his usual high performance level. ( )
  Traveller1 | Mar 30, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Judith Tarrprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Turtledove, Harrymain authorall editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0812564669, Mass Market Paperback)

The standard time-travel plot turns on what might be changed by the futuristic know-how of an intrepid time traveler--typically a mechanically-minded man who "invents" modern weapons, medical technology, and so on. In Household Gods, Tarr and Turtledove make their time traveler a 1990s Los Angeles lawyer with no special technical or historical knowledge.

Nicole Gunther-Perrin is a single mother of two. Today her daycare provider's quitting. At the office, her male colleague has made partner and she hasn't. The kids get sick, the microwave dies, and her ex goes on vacation with his girlfriend. Staring at a votive plaque of Liber and Libera, Roman household gods, Nicole falls asleep wishing she lived in the past, surely a better and easier time. She awakens in second-century Carnuntum, a town near the Roman Empire's borders. Death, disease, and dirt are commonplace. Slavery and corporal punishment are facts of life, and war, pillage, and rape are constant threats. Mere survival is hard work. Though Nicole adapts and even enjoys some of her experience, she longs to return to her own time. The problems she left behind no longer seem unconquerable.

Tarr and Turtledove know their history and bring the reader into a past as vividly real as Nicole's Los Angeles. They create genuine, sympathetic characters whose thoughts and feelings are true to their era and deliver a satisfying conclusion. Household Gods should be on the shelf next to L. Sprague de Camp's Lest Darkness Fall and John Maddox Roberts's SPQR mysteries. --Nona Vero

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:07 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

A modern woman is transported to a 2nd century Roman frontier town. Lawyer Nicole, a single mother frustrated by life in Los Angeles, awakens in the body of a widowed tavern keeper. On her return she appreciates modern life more.

(summary from another edition)

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