The Uncertain Hour
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A.D. 66: Having been falsely implicated in a plot to assassinate the emperor Nero, Titus Petronius has a choice: await the executioner at dawn, or die a noble Roman death by his own hand. Deciding that his will be a suicide like no other the world has ever seen, he summons a small circle of intimate friends to his magnificent villa on the enchanting Tyrrhenian coast of southern Italy. There, over the course of a balmy autumn's night, Petronius throws the party of a lifetime. As they feast on course after course of the most sumptuous and exotic fare the empire has to offer, his guests are expressly forbidden to dwell on the imminent tragedy; instead, they are enjoined to sing, eat, drink, and celebrate. But as his life dwindles to a few precious hours, Petronius himself cannot shake off the ghosts of his past or his regret over mistakes that can no longer be set right. With the fateful dawn approaching, he recalls the great love affair of his life, and his years as Nero's "Arbiter of Elegance." Not until the very end will he bequeath his magnum opus, The Satyricon, to posterity.
Exquisitely written and profoundly moving, The Uncertain Hour is a vivid portrait of life in ancient Rome and a gripping entrée into the mind of a great man during his final hours.
"Lush and sorrowful...splendid...lusciously described... gorgeous."-The New York Observer
"The Uncertain Hour is that very rare thing - a historical novel of love and ideas not only free of pedantry, but also serious and entertaining. Browner has done a fine and meticulous job borrowing from the actual "Satyricon" dishes for Petronius' lovingly described last supper...a rewarding new novel."-Los Angeles Times
From Publishers Weekly
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