Augustus by John Williams – of Stoner fame – is one of our two Book Club books of the week. Find out what our Book Club thought of this intriguing epistolary novel…
This being the year of Stoner we were intrigued to discover what else John Williams had written. He wrote only four novels, as well as several collections of poetry and numerous essays. All four are very different. As a bit of an I, Claudius fan I was intrigued to stumble across Augustus – a National Book Award winning novel, first published in 1972. As you may have gleaned from the title, the novel tells the story of the Emperor Augustus but does it by means of fictionalised letters and diary entries from real life characters of the period so we view the man throughs the thoughts of Virgil, Horace, Mark Anthony et al.
Although on the surface a very different novel to Stoner it nevertheless shares significant similarities. Both essentially are the stories of two men coming to terms with their their own mortality, it’s just that in Stoner that man is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Missouri and in Augustus he is the leader of the Roman Empire. It’s an absolutely fascinating book and deservedly holds the accolade of the finest American historical novel every published.
The Book Club Podcast
We think our Book Club selection are books not only worth reading, but worth talking about. Each week, we’re bringing together a group of Waterstones Cardholders and our own booksellers to talk about our Book Club book of the week.