The Last Girls of Pompeii

The Last Girls of Pompeii

4.3 13
by Kathryn Lasky
     
 

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In Pompeii, in the summer of A.D. 79, Julia and Sura appear to lead opposite lives. Julia is the daughter of a wealthy ship-builder; Sura is an orphan. Julia bears the Curse of Venus—a withered arm; Sura’s beauty turns heads. Julia is free; Sura is her slave.

Then Julia learns that her parents are planning to put her in the service of the Temple of

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Overview

In Pompeii, in the summer of A.D. 79, Julia and Sura appear to lead opposite lives. Julia is the daughter of a wealthy ship-builder; Sura is an orphan. Julia bears the Curse of Venus—a withered arm; Sura’s beauty turns heads. Julia is free; Sura is her slave.

Then Julia learns that her parents are planning to put her in the service of the Temple of Damia, the center of a cultish new religion, and Sura will be sold to an awful man who plans to make her his concubine.

But when Mt. Vesuvius erupts, Julia’s and Sura’s fates are forever altered, forcing them both to face the true meaning of freedom.

Editorial Reviews

KLIATT - Claire Rosser
We know Lasky as a fine historical novelist, and telling a story of the last days of Pompeii apparently has fulfilled a lifelong interest in that place of doom. She has chosen to create a fictional family and focuses on two young girls: the daughter of the house, Julia, and her slave, Sura. Sura has cared for Julia since Julia's birth and the two are close friends. Julia was born with a withered left arm, a deformity she endures but that others look upon with disgust, especially Julia's older sister Cornelia who is planning a wedding. Julia will never be able to marry because of her arm, and just as we know we are heading for the volcanic eruption that will destroy everyone (the characters, of course, don't know what is coming) we read about the well-meaning but desperate parents' plan to send Julia off to the Temple of Damia and sell Sura to raise money for Cornelia's expensive wedding. When the volcanic ash begins to fall and the earth trembles with the horror of things to come, Julia and Sura run off to find refuge and in so doing discover family secrets just as the family is destroyed. Helpful notes at the end of the story tell how the author came to this historical period and how she created her fictional family. She explains the role of religion in the lives of the Romans of this period and clarifies the archeological history of the discovery of Pompeii. A very successful approach, I think, and a good complement to any study of Roman history for this age group.
Kirkus Reviews
For all of the daily prophecies in Pompeii, A.D. 79, the "chicken-gut-reading augurs" and oaths to the gods and goddesses, only the Sybil of Sarnus foresaw the end of the world, and for Julia and Sura, it's a world they are none too pleased with. Sura is Julia's slave about to be sold, and Julia has a withered arm, the Curse of Venus that makes her an outcast in Roman society. In the midst of older sister Cornelia's wedding, Mt. Vesuvius blows, ruining the wedding and providing a chance for Sura and Julia to escape their fates. More than a story of the famous volcano, this is a richly observed story of two young women, each trapped by their circumstances in their culture, a reflection on time, destiny and memory, a story where early off-hand comments such as, "It's not the end of the world" and "Some things never change" portend more than is known. An intelligent, ruminative work for thoughtful readers. (historical note) (Historical fiction. 10+)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780670061969
Publisher:
Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Publication date:
05/17/2007
Pages:
160
Product dimensions:
5.78(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.79(d)
Lexile:
780L (what's this?)
Age Range:
10 Years

Meet the Author

Award-winning author Kathryn Lasky has written many fiction and nonfiction books for children, including the Newbery Honor book Sugaring Time. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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Last Girls of Pompeii 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've always been fascinated with Pompeii. I went to Italy last summer, but never visited Pompeii, which I regret. If I ever go again, I'm deffinatley going there. Well, this story was amazing! I loved both Julia and Sura. I finished this book in two days because I couldn't put it down. Even people who aren't enthusiastic about history would love this story. It covers many issues of that time and still provides an entertaining and likeable story. Kathryn Lasky is a wonderful author, and this is my favorite book of hers yet. It'a a must read for anyone!
Guest More than 1 year ago
For a short book, this one packs a historical wallop. I first picked the book because I thought it was one I could get through quickly, and I did. I expected the characters and plot to be mediocre, and wow, was I ever surprised. Julia Petreia is a twelve year old character living in Pompeii just before Mt. Vesuvius erupts. Ms. Lasky deftly creates a young heroine of intelligence and conscience as Julia wrestles with the issues such as slavery and her place in a culture that finds physical handicaps disconcerting. Julia is a participant in her oldest sister¿s wedding. As the family prepares, Julia begins to notice a subtle shift in how they are treating her. Her mother continues to pester oracle after oracle to find an auspicious day for the wedding and to get counsel as to how to deal with Julia. Julia knows that she will never be married. Her deformed arm has ended any chance of that in a world that defines her either as cursed by the gods or as especially gifted and in tune with the spirit world. With an eye for detail and a flair for storytelling, Ms. Lasky creates a tale of surprising depth. This depth reflects the somewhat permissive attitude Romans had about liaison¿s outside of marriage and some dramatically detailed, but disturbing scenes from the eruption. My initial feelings about the author¿s credibility were allayed in the notes at the end of the book. To keep the characters clear, Ms. Lasky ignored the esoteric custom of how people were named in Roman times. When I realized why she had made that decision and read the history she had used to create this story, I was remarkably impressed. This would be an excellent book to read as a supplement to a World History class.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awesome bookm but wouldn't recomend to anyone under 9 because some discussion between the characters. I love love love love love this book. A must read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book on paper and it is really good. I really would recomend this book, even though it has some dramatic parts it is a must read. You really should read it.
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It seems like a good book based on the reveiws and summary. I once read a true book about mount. Vosuvious. No one surrvived the volcano and everyone turned to stone. It was really intresting. I think this book will be a really good book.