After telling the story of St. Peter meeting the Lord on His way back to Rome MANY times over to the kids, I figured it was time for me to pick up this book from the library and give it a shot -- Quo Vadis by Henryk Sienkiewicz.
Let me say right off the bat that I used to be a big fan of Biblical fiction. The Big Fisherman, The Robe, John Son of Thunder, and I Judas are just some of the ones I remember reading when I was in high school. In fact, I checked out The Big Fisherman so many times from the library that my friend finally broke down and bought me a copy for my birthday (made all the more special because she was an atheist, so she REALLY went "above and beyond" on that one... God bless you, Katherine!)
As far as Biblical fiction goes, this book was interesting. The author really did quite a bit of research to be able to accurately describe Rome as it was during the reign of Nero. He took great care to get the streets and various sectors correct, and was (unfortunately) quite realistic in his portrayal of the persecution the Church faced during this time. And as always, there's the "love story set in the midst of all the action" that is supposed to give us the good guys to cheer for and carry us through the story.
The downside to this book falls under "my personal preference." I get completely turned off by extreme exaggeration. Did EVERY prayer that Peter ever uttered cause the entire room to get misty-eyed? Was EVERY Roman so completely blood-thirsty? Does the main character HAVE to wax poetic every time he mentions the "love of his life"? My answer would be no. Sienkiewicz's answer is a resounding "yes!"
After 579 pages, I had had enough.
The other downside of this book falls into the "my greatest fears" category. My reading a 579 page book on the horrific persecution of the Church is NOT something I should do on a regular basis. I do NOT handle "end times" stuff well AT ALL. In fact, I start to hyperventilate and freak out and beg God not to put my children through all that and oh dear God where would we run to do I need to start stocking up on extra food.... you get the picture. Those who know me well are already shaking their heads saying, "Girl! You KNOW better than that! Do NOT go reading stuff like that!"
Point well taken.
So, if you are a fan of Biblical fiction and don't mind some over the top dialogue, then I can recommend this book to you.
If you tend to be more of a realist, or REALLY don't handle the thought of living through intense persecution, I would urge you to avoid this one.