The Dream of Scipio by Iain Pears

PUBLISHED: 11:19 26 October 2006 | UPDATED: 11:03 06 May 2010

SOMETIMES in life you need a challenge and sometimes you want a laugh or a thrill. The Dream of Scipio is definitely a challenge. It asks big questions, such as whether it is right to work with an evil regime to try and make things better. Three character

SOMETIMES in life you need a challenge and sometimes you want a laugh or a thrill. The Dream of Scipio is definitely a challenge.

It asks big questions, such as whether it is right to work with an evil regime to try and make things better.

Three characters each make this choice centuries apart. Intellectual Manlius is a rich Roman waiting for the empire to fall and his French estates to be overrun by the Goths. The 14th century poet Olivier faces the horrors of the plague and Julien wrestles with the atrocities of World War II.

All three love 'unsuitable' women - Jews in an anti-Semite society in Olivier and Julien's cases. And all three live in Provence in France.

The thread that links the three stories is The Dream of Scipio, a great and profound work which Manlius writes and Olivier rediscovers. It is lost once again and then found by Julien.

If you have a bit of time, like history and want to puzzle over some moral dilemmas, this is for you. Otherwise pass until you're feeling stronger. 4/5


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