The Love-Artist

Written by Jane Alison
Review by Ilysa Magnus

Ovid, creator of Metamorphoses, The Art of Love and other works which have been lost to us forever, arrives at his place of exile on the Black Sea, having angered the Caesar and fallen from grace. There he looks back upon his life.

Ovid has been to the edges of the Empire before. There he once met Xenia, a young woman who became Ovid’s muse for his darkest work. Xenia is a complex woman who is not merely a healer, a seer, and a witch, but one who knows the answer to the one secret which haunts Ovid: Will he be remembered by generations to come? Will he become immortal through his poetry? He is obsessed by the answer.

Little is known of Ovid’s life. Ovid’s poetry, as focal as it was to his existence, is not a necessity in approaching the book. Alison, a talented new writer, presents these two people – Ovid and Xenia – as if she shared their lives and understood the passions and obsessions which motivated them. The highly charged, emotional atmosphere is often eerie and sensual, the language lyrical and lovely. The political and literary scenes in Rome are carefully and honestly drawn.

This is a wonderful book and is highly recommended.