Almost – but not quite – incredible. A review of ‘Pompeii’ by Robert Harris

Robert Harris paints a vivid picture of life around the bay of Naples just before Vesuvius erupts. The engineer Attilius battles powerful, arrogant, carefree, unscrupulous men in his successful attempt to repair the aqueduct which is the lifeline for all the towns around the bay. Then, anticipating the eruption of Vesuvius, he does what he can to warn people to escape and – venturing into the inferno in the company of Pliny the Elder on the latter’s liburna – finally saves the sensitive daughter of the proud profiteer Ampliatus, Corelia, by a daring escape through the tunnel of the aqueduct.

I was amazed that people could survive through the relentless shower of falling pumice but it seems from historic and scientific evidence that the experience of an erupting volcano as described is plausible.

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