This book isn't one of those frighteningly complex-looking book full of tables, rules and vast reams of incomprehensible text; Carpe Diem is, instead, an amusing book with lots of prose discussing how we view Latin in today's world, as well as some amusing reminiscences of Harry Mount's various Latin teachers, architectural history and more. The prose is well written and informative with a light touch and referring to people including David Beckham, Angelina Jolie, various US presidents and, of course, lots of dead people from the classical era, although hints of his public school education come through in some of the language he uses. Nestled within this are occasional tables with Latin declensions or conjugations, very short lists of vocabulary, occasional photographs and some Latin quotations (always translated).
This book works just as well for people who don't have any Latin at all; whilst they'll probably skim through the various noun, verb and adjective tables there is still lots of Latin scattered amongst the prose (always explained) which makes you realise how many Latin words we actually use. It's not entirely clear who this book is for, as it's not a serious scholarly work for the Latin learner and it's not a beginner's guide for the Latin newbie - it's probably more of an enjoyable book for those who learned some Latin years ago and remember it with the fondness of time, having forgotten about the evils of learning endless lists of awkward words, as well as an amusing tour through history and other aspects by an excellent writer.
This book was previously published in the UK under the title 'Amo, Amas, Amat... And All That' and was one of the publishing success stories of 2006.
Originally published for Curled Up With A Good Book, . © Helen Hancox 2007