The first book is called “I, Claudius”, an historical novel by Robert Graves and published in 1934.
Claudius was a real person, and was Emperor of the Roman Empire, at least according to Edward Gibbons’ the “History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire”,he came to the throne after Caligula and ruled for some thirteen years.
In Graves’ fictional account, well, I’ll quote directly from the back of the book: “Despised for his weakness and regarded by his family as little more than a stammering fool, the nobleman Claudius quietly survives the intrigues, bloody purges and mounting cruelty of the Imperial Roman dynasties.(Game of Thrones, Roman style?)
Graves doesn’t hold back in describing the madness and debauchery of ancient Rome and I found the novel very real and compelling. Actually, Graves further wrote “Claudius the God” which I must soon get. Better late than never.
My next author is Canadian Margaret Lawrence( not to be confused with Margaret Atwood, recently famous for her novel, the Handmaid’s Tale) I’ve read two of her novels, The Stone Angel, published in 1964 and which tells about the up and downs of the life of character Hagar Shipley, and “The Diviners” which is the story of another lady Morag Gunn, a novelist and single mother.
I like Lawrence’s novels because they are “gritty” and reflect her own experiences in life, I think more sadness than happiness. Her novels have received many awards in Canada.
My third novelist is Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s “A Day in the Life of Ivan Denis0vich” which is about a day in a Russian Labour Camp under the Stalinist purges, and became famous just for that reason. Even more famous is his book, the Gulag Archipelago, which is his recounting of the Stalinist purges, very popular during the Cold War.
I had the Gulag Archipelago as a three volume set, and I managed to read book one before they disappeared.
I books I’ve lost over the years…….