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Household Gods by Judith Tarr
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Household Gods (original 1999; edition 2000)

by Judith Tarr, Harry Turtledove

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4592322,646 (3.65)23
Member:AddictedToMorphemes
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
Rating:***
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 23 (next | show all)
Nicole Gunther-Perrin, a California lawyer and divorced mother of two, thinks her life is rough, what with on-the-job sexual harassment, an ex- who's late with his child support, and bratty kids.
Somehow, she gets the pea-brained idea that life would have been better in the Roman Empire. Ah, for those simple, bucolic times!
With the help of an ancient plaque of a god & goddess that she picked up on her honeymoon, the teetotalling, prissy, christian, politically correct Nicole is zapped back to the 2nd century AD, into the body of a widowed tavern-keeper.

It doesn't take her long to learn that Roman times were not the haven of equality and justice that she imagined. Gradually, as she comes to adjust to the shock, filth, licentiousness, lack of health care, violence & etc... of ancient times, she also learns a lot about life, love, friendship and coping with difficulties.

It's a bit hard to believe how ignorant a well-educated modern character like Nicole is about the realities of life during Roman times, and I do disagree with a few of the authors "messages" - such as that children need corporal punishment to be disciplined (Kids aren't stupid. Explanations of WHY they shouldn't do something are liable to go a lot further than a smack.) But overall I found this to be a really entertaining read ( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
I really liked this book and I'm not much of an adult fantasy reader. The main thing that struck me was that I was travelling to my husband's home village in Tibet while reading this, and found her time travelling "culture shock" was much mirroring my own as I left my comfortable American existance and entered into the (nearer) past. Depictions of chamber pots being dumped out the window into the alley coincided with our own carrying of the garbage and muck thrown out into the alleyway. When I started to read it on the plane I thought the main character was whiney, until I started living a similar experience. Coming to love the place warts and all was the same as well. ( )
  thukpa | Feb 6, 2016 |
I really liked this book and I'm not much of an adult fantasy reader. The main thing that struck me was that I was travelling to my husband's home village in Tibet while reading this, and found her time travelling "culture shock" was much mirroring my own as I left my comfortable American existance and entered into the (nearer) past. Depictions of chamber pots being dumped out the window into the alley coincided with our own carrying of the garbage and muck thrown out into the alleyway. When I started to read it on the plane I thought the main character was whiney, until I started living a similar experience. Coming to love the place warts and all was the same as well. ( )
  thukpa | Feb 6, 2016 |
I really liked this book and I'm not much of an adult fantasy reader. The main thing that struck me was that I was travelling to my husband's home village in Tibet while reading this, and found her time travelling "culture shock" was much mirroring my own as I left my comfortable American existance and entered into the (nearer) past. Depictions of chamber pots being dumped out the window into the alley coincided with our own carrying of the garbage and muck thrown out into the alleyway. When I started to read it on the plane I thought the main character was whiney, until I started living a similar experience. Coming to love the place warts and all was the same as well. ( )
  thukpa | Feb 5, 2016 |
Time-travel is not something I'd read by choice but I'm so very desperate for novels set in Rome I haven't read I picked this one up. Delightful and quick read--most of it taking place in the Pannonia of Marcus Aurelius' time--but for a beginning and ending telling how the heroine got to and from the city of Carnuntus, which I found out actually existed, as well as the main male character, the fuller/dyer [in the story] Titus Calidius Severus, historically a former Roman soldier stationed in that area with Legion XV. We know him by a funerary monument; I commend whoever invented a personality for him and used him in a story.

Nicole is a lady lawyer, a divorced, single mother of two preschoolers. She has a terrible day--an understatement. She's been passed over for partnership in her law firm and her child care worker has quit on the same day. From her honeymoon in Austria, land of some of her ancestors, she has a souvenir kept by her bedside: a plaque of a god and goddess. Frustrated, angry, overwhelmed, she offers a facetious prayer that they take her to their world, somewhere "not so...artificial, not so hateful."

The main thrust of the novel is how a 20th century woman--fully aware of male chauvinism, modern society and all its amenities and comforts--copes with a society so different. It's dirty, unhygienic, smelly, primitive but peoples' personalities after millennia haven't changed. She goes to sleep in modern L.A., awakes in this garrison town in the body of her ancestress, a widowed tavern keeper and single mother of two. The deities have given her a bonus: ability to speak, understand, read and write Latin. We witness her comparisons of everything in the 2nd century A.D. with modern times. We see Nicole first as an obnoxious, arrogant, self-righteous know-it-all but her experiences with this simpler time--lice [ugh], mores, war, deadly pestilence [probably measles], rape, AND a romance with the aforementioned Titus--cause her to reflect, empathize, and to change her attitude, once she returns to the present.

The book was somewhat dated with references to popular culture of when it was written: 1999. And it was probably average for its genre, but I did get the lesson, the old saw, "Be careful what you wish for, you may get it". It's a book I won't soon forget. Recommended. ( )
  janerawoof | Aug 14, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 23 (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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