In this recent new release, James Papandrea gives the reader of what life was like in Roman for both fledgling Christians and Roman citizens. It’s AD50, and the Jews have been banished from the city, but the community awaits one very important person who’s traveling from Jerusalem to see them. Stachys, a Greek who also happens to be a Roman citizen, is married to a Way-Follower but his patron is a worshipper of Pagan gods and is looking for increased status. Will either of them live long enough to see Peter arrive?
A Week in the Life of Rome should be a great book. It’s got a good storyline to it, with interesting characters. Most of the characters are all mentioned in the New Testament; while the Pauline letters mention them in passing, Papandrea fleshes them out and gives them identity. It’s also a combination of a novel and an encyclopedia. If it was on television, the best comparison would be a docudrama.
That’s where I had a problem with this read. I read it in electronic form – where formatting is never the greatest – and I think this does need to be read in print format. There are plenty of factual blocks to explain aspects of Roman life, such as the Patron-Client system, and the types of homes that Romans lived in. These don’t come at the end of a chapter but, instead, break up the narrative. The breaks weren’t clear in the e-book but I presume they would be in a paper book. This meant that passages that should’ve been tense weren’t.
It’s a shame that the flow of the book was broken up in such a way. Each explanatory section lessened the tension. I’ve no doubt that, written as a straight piece of fiction, A Week in the Life of Rome, could’ve been a fantastic novel.
Disclaimer: I received an electronic copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not required to write a review, and the words above are my own.
Update 27 March 2019: It turns out the formatting issue is with the Kindle. After seeing my review, both the author and publisher got in contact with me. I was able to send them photos of how the book looked on my e-reader after I downloaded it from NetGalley. They’ve now made changes. They also very kindly sent me the NetGalley link to the next book in the series, which is downloadable in .pdf format. It can’t be downloaded to a Kindle, but I got it to download onto both my smartphone and laptop via the Adobe Digital Editions app. And it looks a LOT better! Thank you to Jim Papandrea, the author, and Ethan and Karin at IVPress.
Publisher: InterVarsity Press
Publication Date: 19 February 2019