My geography is pretty poor. In my teens I’d have been more likely to find my way around the Shire, Mordor, Discworld or the planets of the Star wars galaxy safely than I would to find my way across Europe or Asia. It has improved a little but isn’t helped by the rezoning of borders and the renaming of countries as they achieve their independence. I think its because I always loved poring over maps I found in books of fiction, far more than an real atlas. I don’t have a great innate sense of direction either. My current pet hate is my Google Maps suggesting I go ‘north -east’ from the starting point. Hell , if I knew which direction North East was in an industrial estate in central Dublin, I wouldn’t be needing navigation guidance…
This month’s second book review blog is The Scapegoat by Michael V Solomon, published by Universe an imprint of Unicorn Publishing ( http://www.unicornpublishing.org ) in February. It charts Ovid’s ( that Ovid Publius Naso to you and me) journey out of exile. And the link to my opener, is you’ve guessed it, I’d have really liked a map to peruse. Not only is it all in an area I’m unfamiliar with but most of the places are gone or renamed. Also, and here’s something I never thought I’d say, a list of characters to refer to. There is a large cast and the names are unfamiliar to me. You see, sometimes I cheat and google stuff to see historical figures or the records of historical events and journeys to flesh out what I’m reading, but as this is a work of fiction none were available.
That said, I’m sure to readers more familiar with Roman history and the works of Ovid, the cast and locations of the book would be more easily recognisable. Michael has obviously done meticulous research into the period, background history and notable figures of the time. His passion for the subject shines through.
And don’t think that this book is a heavy historical tome or be put off by the subject matter if it’s out of your usual area of interest. I found the narrative really easy and enjoyable to read. The plot kept my attention and brought me back to read another chapter eagerly. The main characters are brought to life and are engaging. During the book the character of Ovid develops are he undergoes a physical and metaphorical journey. There is a fair amount of eye opening lewdness, interesting insights into Roman and other rituals and beliefs, plus the politics of the day. The Scapegoat of the title is a recurring theme as many of the cultures felt the sacrifice of a suitable scapegoat representing all their failures would appease the Gods and bring them success, something the cultured Romans did too in a political sense and modern cultures are still guilty of finding a scapegoat on whom to pin their ills.
This English author Michael V. Solomon’s debut novel. Originally from Romania, his grandfather was an important political figure between the first and second world wars, and was detained by the soviet regime. After university, Solomon began his career as a Civil Engineer in Constanta – Tomis, where Ovid began his exile. After travelling throughout, Europe, America and the Middle East, he moved to London at the start of the Millennium, where he started his first drafts of Scapegoat. During the pandemic, he made final revisions.
I do feel this is more of a man’s read but was surprised how much I enjoyed it. I was particularly interested to hear about the resonations between the authors family backstory and his work connections with Constanta -Tomis, .An interesting and unusual read, the Library Door recommends you journey to your nearest bookstore or online to order a copy .
Reviewed by Georgina Murphy
This book review is part of a blog tour organised by Random Things Tours. To see what the other reviewers thought, visit their blogs listed below. Then, if you get a copy, comeback and tell us what you thought. We’d really appreciate the feedback.