This is one of the best books I've read all year. And I don't say that merely to curry favor with Charity Bishop, who is my Femnista editor.
Claudia is a Roman girl who suffers from terrifying, seemingly prescient nightmares. She marries a Roman officer, Lucius Pilate, thinking the nightmares will cease once they've consummated their marriage. They move to Judea when Pilate is appointed the governor of that region, and if you know your Bible history at all, you know whose trail he eventually must judge. But Charity Bishop doesn't stop with Christ's death and resurrection -- she continues their story beyond that, to its own conclusion.
The characters here are well-rounded and compelling -- I even got attached to some of the secondary characters, like Claudia's servants. The pacing and plotting were good as well. But Bishop's best work was with her details of the Ancient Roman world. She clearly did a massive amount of research, and I could have read another 200 pages set in this place, with these characters.
If you read my other blog, then you know I was very, very impressed by the film Risen (2016). Coincidentally, my husband chose that for our Friday night movie right while I was reading this, and I enjoyed contrasting the two presentations of Christ's death and resurrection from a Roman point of view. The two Pilates in Risen and I, Claudia are very different, but both are believable expansions of the person we read about in the Bible.
Particularly Good Bits:
"Life is like driving a chariot, Claudia. You can do it alone and feel every flinch and tug of the lines. You can fight the horses or you can learn from them. It's easier if you have help" (p. 25).
"Religion forbids a lot of things but it never stops anyone" (p. 26).
"Who but the son of God could take away hatred and replace it with love in those who follow him?" (p. 166).
If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It: PG-13 for a lot of suggestive material, scary scenes, pagan magic, demon possession, and violence.