by Douglas Fenn Wilson


Postumus Lovers (Latin spelling of Posthumous) is a work of mainstream fiction set mostly in contemporary Washington, D.C., but flashing back to the Rome of Augustus, at first in short vivid passages, and later in full chapters. The main idea--building a modern day American story on ancient Roman foundations--sprang from similar themes in Wilson’s paintings and sculpture. The novel's protagonist is politically eminent Agatha Post, who seeks refuge from her own conflicted life in a long dead historical counterpart, Agrippa Postumus, the luckless grandson of Emperor Augustus. (Agrippa Postumus is a real historical figure whose life the author researched and portrayed accurately). Aggie's link to him is at first academic, but escalates into an intense, spiritual delusion. In a tangle of time, history, spirituality, and psychiatry, Agatha and Postumus intertwine. In the end, Agatha finds salvation not by dispelling her inner phantom, but by embracing it. The book leaves Agatha, and the reader, with the sense that past and present are ultimately held apart by something as thin and gossamer as smoke.

The novel is narrated by Agatha's psychiatrist Dr. Roazen. Bit by bit he gathers clues that reveal the full-blown Roman within Aggie, but he understands too late that Agatha's delusion is profoundly prescient, that Rome's decadent politics foreshadow scandal in Washington; that Agatha Post is not within the eye of one storm, but two. While the book is primarily character driven, it emeerges as a psychiatric mystery, a spiritual and historical journey, and a romance, all carefully plaited.



Federal Marshals discover Attorney General Agatha Post along a Potomac riverbank in the throes of a psychotic break. Her psychiatrist, Dr. Roazen uncovers an alter presence deep in her subconscious, Agrippa Postumus, the tormented grandson of Ceasar Augustus. Bit by bit, an uncanny tale of parallel lives emerges –– soul mates separated by 2000 years, yet strikingly similar, and victims of chillingly similar circumstances. While trying to further their emotional and spiritual bond, Agatha and Postumus fall prey to scandal. The intersection that holds the promise of cinching their union snowballs into crisis, takes one to the brink of mortality, and sends the other over the edge –– the only place their story can truly end: the beginning.

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