recommendation: The Emperor’s Babe

Not your everyday book. I’ve been asked to come up with a take on The Emperor’s Babe (by Bernardine Evaristo) for a company in London, so I stayed up late tonight re-reading it. I realize I hadn’t given it the proper recommendation a few weeks ago when I first mentioned it. It’s not just my two years of high school Latin that helped make it so enjoyable, but the fun of Evaristo’s sassy verse. An example:

I was spotted at the baths of Cheapside,
just budding, and my fate was sealed

by a man thrice my age and thrice my girth,
all at sweet eleven — even then Dad

thought I was getting past it.
Then I was sent off to a snooty Roman bitch

called Clarissa for decorum classes,
learnt how to talk, eat and fart,

how to get my amo amas amat right, and ditch
my second-generaton plebby creole.

Zuleika accepta est.
Zuleika delicata est.
Zuleika bloody goody-two shoes est.

But I dreamt of creating mosaics,
of remaking my town with bright stones and glass.

But no! Numquam! It’s not allowed.
Sure, Felix brings me presents, when he deigns

to come west. I’ve had Chinese silk, a marble
figurine from Turkey, gold earrings

shaped like dolphins, and I have the deepest
fondness for my husband, of course,

sort of, though he spills over me like dough
and I’m tempted to call Cook mid coitus

to come trim his sides so that he fits me.
Then it’s puff and Ciao, baby!

Solitudoh, solitudee, solitudargh!

Fun stuff.