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Curses and Smoke Any lover of historical fictional or a fan of love stories will want to read this book. Shecter, author of Cleopatra’s Moon, has once again given the reader of historical fictional a fascinating look into the past.

She has thoroughly researched the events of the eruption of Vesuvius, the lives of the people living in and around Pompeii and Herculaneum, and the Roman society as a whole.  She has included a wonderful set of notes at the end of the story so the reader may be able to see the sources of her story and of her characters.

The two main characters, Tag and Lucia are from two very different social strata.  Their lives are intertwined because Tag’s father is the physician for Lucia’s father and for the gladiators at his school. Lucia, is supposed to marry a much older man, but she wants to understand the causes of the natural mysteries she has begun to notice, and she definitely does not want to marry an old man.  Lucia has been taught to read, but she remains the property of her father and will later be the property of her husband; therefore, her wishes are of no importance. The love between Tag and Lucia develops as Vesuvius sends out more and more warnings about the coming eruption.  But, the people of Pompeii have never experienced an eruption, and they ignore the coming doom of the town.

The reader will come away with a realistic view of life and love during the first century.  Pompeii itself is a treasure of the past, but Shecter has put together other pertinent information that will expand the knowledge of the reader about Roman and its people’s. The book is suitable for grades six through twelve although adults will also enjoy it. I can easily recommend its purchase.