Counting the Stars is a captivating tale of forbidden love and bestselling author Helen Dunmore's tenth novel.
In the heat of Rome's long summer, the poet Catullus and his older married lover, Clodia Metelli, meet in secret.
Living at the heart of sophisticated, brittle and brutal Roman society at the time of Pompey, Crassus and Julius Caesar, Catullus is obsessed with Clodia, the Lesbia of his most passionate poems. He is jealous of her husband, of her maid, even of her pet sparrow. And Clodia? Catullus is 'her dear poet', but possibly not her only interest . . .
Their Rome is a city of extremes. Tenants are packed into ramshackle apartment blocks while palatial villas house the magnificence of the families who control Rome. Armed street gangs clash in struggles for political power. Slaves are the eyes and ears of everything that goes on, while civilization and violence are equals, murder is the easy option and poison the weapon of choice.
Catallus' relationship with Clodia is one of the most intense, passionate, tormented and candid in history. In love and in hate, their story exposes the beauty and terrors of Roman life in the late Republic.
'She reels you in . . . Dunmore has a gift for turning every genre she touches to gold' Telegraph
`Dunmore at her most innovative and daring . . . a powerful and convincing study of fame and notoriety . . . captivating and compelling' Time Out
'Dunmore's strengths as a novelist have always included her skill in sensuous description and her ability to convey the promises and the dangers of erotic love. The Rome she has so vividly realised in Counting the Stars provides a new stage on which to display those strengths' Sunday Times
Helen Dunmore is the author of twelve novels: Zennor in Darkness, which won the McKitterick Prize; Burning Bright; A Spell of Winter, which won the Orange Prize; Talking to the Dead; Your Blue-Eyed Boy; With Your Crooked Heart; The Siege, which was shortlisted for the 2001 Whitbread Novel of the Year Award and for the Orange Prize for Fiction 2002; Mourning Ruby; House of Orphans; Counting the Stars; The Betrayal, which was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2010, and The Greatcoat. She is also a poet, children's novelist and short-story writer.