Review: I Am Livia by Phyllis T. Smith

Pub Date: May 1, 2014 | Lake Union Publishing | eBook, Paperback, Audio

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Genre: Historical Fiction

Her life would be marked by scandal and suspicion, worship and adoration…

At the tender age of fourteen, Livia Drusilla overhears her father and fellow aristocrats plotting the assassination of Julius Caesar. Proving herself an astute confidante, she becomes her father’s chief political asset—and reluctantly enters into an advantageous marriage to a prominent military officer. Her mother tells her, “It is possible for a woman to influence public affairs,” reminding Livia that—while she possesses a keen sense for the machinations of the Roman senate—she must also remain patient and practical.

But patience and practicality disappear from Livia’s mind when she meets Caesar’s heir, Octavianus. At only eighteen, he displays both power and modesty. A young wife by that point, Livia finds herself drawn to the golden-haired boy. In time, his fortunes will rise as Livia’s family faces terrible danger. But her sharp intellect—and her heart—will lead Livia to make an unbelievable choice: one that will give her greater sway over Rome than she could have ever foreseen.

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My Review

Livia Drusilla, wife to Caesar Augustus, mother of the Emperor Tiberius, ancestress to Emperors Caligula, Claudius, and Nero, and the first Empress of Rome is the subject of Phyllis T. Smith’s novel, I Am Livia. If you’re thinking that she sounds pretty intriguing I can assure you that she is!

As the daughter of a Roman Senator, Livia is incredibly intelligent and politically astute – a trait that comes in handy in later her role as wife and confidante of Caesar. Like most powerful women in history, Livia’s been given a bad rap. Smith’s Livia is not necessarily what you would call a “schemer”, but more a woman who knows what she wants and goes after it. Her marriage with Caesar was both politically important, but also a true love match. They were married for over 50 years and their relationship is sweetly portrayed in the book.

All in all I was quite impressed by Smith’s ‘I Am Livia’. There were a few areas where the dialogue could have been a little stronger and less modern, and there were occasional info dumps, but I was greatly entertained and educated. Livia Drusilla was a woman before her time, a true inspiration for future Empresses, and a fascinating historical figure. I greatly recommend this novel to those who enjoy Ancient Rome and strong female protagonists.

I thank TLC Book Tours for including me on this tour and giving me the opportunity to read this wonderful historical novel.

About Phyllis T. Smith

Phyllis T. Smith was born and currently lives in Brooklyn, New York. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree from Brooklyn College and a master’s degree from New York University, Phyllis pursued a practical career in computer applications training, yet found herself drawn to literature and art of the ancient world. I Am Livia is her first novel. She has another novel set in ancient Rome in the works.

Connect with Phyllis T. Smith at her website,

Goodreads Giveaway

20 Copies of I Am Livia are up for grabs over at Goodreads. Ends on June 8. US Only.


  1. My first introduction to Livia and I'm thoroughly enjoying the novel. Great review, Amy. I share your view of Livia.

  2. I really enjoy books set in the Roman era so this book is high on my TBR list!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.


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