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on 5 October 2017
Only one more to read in the series now. Great book. Just as described and quick delivery.
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on 25 March 2016
This entire series is sold in the 7-9-year-old section in our local bookstore, which would seem reasonable when one considers that the protagonist is 10 years old, with an 8-year-old friend. This book doesn't just contain sex. It contains sex in all the unhealthiest of ways, with a suicidal woman poisoning herself to get attention from her promiscuous husband who sleeps with and/or has slept with nearly every female character in the book. We see slave girls competing for sexual favors from their master, we watch Lupus and Flavia separately "walk in" on various sex scenes. We meet a very young slave girl who has just become pregnant by Felix, we hear from a woman who was raped by him as an 11 year old, and we even watch Flavia ward off sexual advances, as a 10-year-old, from a man at least two decades her senior. The book also includes two suicide attempts, one by a girl only slightly older than Flavia. And the convoluted sexual intrigues don't just form some side story--they basically constitute the entire plot. What is this doing in a book I bought for my 7-year-old?
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on 1 April 2006
So you've read the rest of the books, watched as Flavia is fed to the crocodiles in the coliseum, laughed at Tigris's untimely bladder problem and cried as well loved charcters meet there end.
But now comes the next instalment, how could it possibly live up the the action packed chase of Fugitive or the wish-ful suspense of assasins? I can't tell you how, but it manages it, and it does it brilliantly.
All emotions are thrown in as the four friends are sent back to the fateful Villa Limona where 7 guests are residing. 3 hanndsome men, 3 beautiful women and 1 boy that we've been waiting for since "Tasks".
Caroline Lawrence has added yet another amazng book to her cult series "Roman Mysteries" and I for one will be re-reading my set until "Charioteer" comes out in around 6 months time.
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on 15 July 2010
Roman mysteries is a bit like the Famous Five with a Roman setting. Four children and a dog solving criminal conspiracies and unravelling some wonderful mysteries in a set of books that just keeps on going. This series deserves to be a classic, and is rich with well researched historical detail that is thoroughly educational as well as thoroughly entertaining. For this reason I would recommend the series to anyone.

However the author has deliberately departed from any Enid Blyton model, and rather like J K Rowling, she has written her books to age with their readers (or their initial readers at least). From the start there are some gruesome storylines. Those storylines will appeal to young readers though, even if their parents shy away a little from having their 8 year old reading about Lupus having his tongue cut out!

In this book though the story takes a leap into teen fiction. This is a story of sexual intrigue. It is carefully written, but that is the overarching theme. This being the case, younger readers will either not wholly understand it or else be turned off by it and parents will be well advised to consider carefully the books suitability.

Those readers who grew up with Roman Mysteries and are already in their teens by the time they read this will not be troubled by the themes though, and the story is another great mystery. Personally I found the resolution a little obvious, but maybe I have just read too many mysteries! It did not matter though as I enjoyed the book thoroughly.

I would give it five stars but I think it would be helpful if the nature of the story was flagged a little more clearly.

I will not be encouraging my 9 year old daughter to read this book any time soon, but I will keep it around for when she is a little older.
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on 13 May 2008
When it comes to accurate historical detail and convincing depiction of ancient Roman society, author Caroline Lawrence knows whereof she writes. Before becoming a children's book author, Caroline Lawrence was a student of Classics at Berkeley and later at Cambridge, as well as a teacher of Latin at a small London primary school.

I am a librarian by profession and have read all of the books in Caroline Lawrence's Roman Mysteries series. The Sirens of Surrentum is one of her best. The protagonist of the story, Flavia Gemina, is about to celebrate her 11th birthday and is just one year away from being of marriageable age (!) by ancient Roman custom. Readers around the same age as Flavia (perhaps age 10 and older being the best age level for the younger readers of this book) will laugh at the foolishness of boys, as well as learn the valuable life-lesson that one can be too young for love.

There is delicious danger in the story, as we follow the young adventurers to the villa of a famous poisoner in their quest to solve the mystery. And, as with all of Caroline Lawrence's books, we learn a few fascinating facts of Roman history and culture along the way, such as the story related by the Roman philosopher Seneca about the German barbarian who killed himself with a sponge-stick (an object customarily employed for more mundane purposes).

Wittily written, NEVER condescending to young readers, and an absolute delight even for adult enthusiasts of stories set in ancient Rome and its environs, The Sirens of Surrentum is a gem from start to finish!
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on 17 October 2011
The mystery is, as usually, first class, but the age bracket (9-12) is a little to young for this one, dealing as it does with a supporting character's (who had been a kind, helpful man in the earlier books) numerous infidelities. I first read this book aged 10, and some of it went completely over my head, but there are themes that are more teenager-y. It in now way condones these actions and children are left with the sense that this type of behaviour is severely hurtful, not just to this character's wife to to his daughter when she finds out. Kissing is the most sexual thing described, but there are innuendos. However, these are tastefully veiled, and I for one did not understand some of these until two or three years after I had first read it. This does, though, mean it could seem quite inappropriate to younger children. My advice is that it be left until 12 or so.
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on 7 July 2012
The first time I picked up this book a few weeks ago in my form room, I was thinking... "Wow this book will look exciting just like the one's before it!" When I saw it I was a tad bit disappointed, I mean it doesn't look like much, Flavia walking in the garden at Villa Limona. But then when I'd read the first few chapters, I knew I'd been wrong, I'm more interested in the romance side of these books but love a bit of mystery, this book has both, they fit perfectly well together and you get a good deal of both.
Oh and this is the best part....
I adore the Flavia Flaccus relationship, because in the previous books it seemed to be more Nubia and Aristo, yeah that's OK their cute together, but you know you do kinda expect what's going to happen with them. Flavia's feelings for both Felix and Flaccus are very moving, I cried several times during this book, purely because people make relationships break relationships and it's really deppressive sometimes. But I was laughing like an idiot in class when I read that the boys went on a boat to have a sneaky look at the girls!!!

Overall even though I'm now finished, this book is the best of all best of all best there could ever be, don't underestimate Lawrence.... :)
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on 1 March 2014
This series by Caroline Lawrence is fabulously evocative of the Roman Empire in all its noise, glory, social etiquette & even seediness. This book follows that trend yet I question the need to go over the seamy, debauched side of Roman life for the monied, upper, toga-wearing classes in a childrens book. The story line is therefore quite loose and not as gripping as other volumes focused on more direct crime. Nevertheless, do not worry, it is not explicit, deals with its subject matter with some humour and may appeal to teenage readers addicted to the romance, various love triangles and intrigues. The plot is rather uneven and this effort lost its way to some extent. I suppose it is rather difficult to tie Dido and Anaeas and the lives of the poets into anything resembling a real life story without histrionics. Still a good book but not the best in the series.
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on 23 March 2010
My 9-year-old daughter has read and enjoyed all the other books in this series, but she mentioned that another friend warned her off this one as it was 'all about people not loving each other any more'. I picked it up to check and was horrified to read sentences like this:
'As her honey-coloured hair tumbled free, he turned her and kissed her full on the mouth. This time she did not resist, but responded hungrily.'

Not only that, but the book is full of references to promiscuity, adultery and sexual attraction. Most of it is veiled and there is plenty of innuendo, but it's completely misplaced in a book aimed at pre-teens.

Very, very disappointing.
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on 31 March 2006
When I read the first line of this book, my first impression was that it is about **** (which was right)...... When Flavia, Nubia, Jonathan and Lupus arrive at the Villa Limona, they meet Floppy *Flaccus* and two other bachelors. There are also three widows:Voluptua, Annia Serena, and Cludia. Voluptua makes a surprise visit with a panther!!! But with the beauties, come a dark side. Polla (Felix' wife) has been poisoned and the four friends are here to solve the mystery. Will Flavia's love for Felix end or will thety start a new relationship? Will the three bachelors fall in love with the three widows? And what haqppens when Flavia's bethrothed shows up? Who will fall in love with who and who is trying to poison Polla? Read the book and Find out! I really enjoyed reading this book.
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