The Emperor's Babe is a rather startling book. Evaristo apparently composed it while writer-in-residence at the Museum of London and it breathes an intimate connection between the Roman city and today's geography - she uses mainly modern streetnames and toponyms, and has Zuleika a citizen of the racially and sexually diverse metropolis, attended by her Scottish slaves, educated by her husband to the point where she writes and recites her own poetry. Evaristo uses the setting to explore various obvious themes of race, class and gender, and does it vividly and thoroughly. Also her Septimius Severus comes to life as a much more sympathetic character than Gibbon's portrayal, though still believes in astrology.
The whole of The Emperor's Babe is in verse. For some reason I had not retained this fact from the reviews I had read on 50books_poc which inspired me to get it in the first place. It is a series of short digestible narrative vignettes, none more than a few pages long. Probably some of them refer to poems of the Classical era which I don't know, but that didn't hamper my enjoyment. I have a couple of other books of verse on the list for this month, so this has broken me in gently.