An Uprising in Rome is driven by Novak’s straightforward storytelling and his rich knowledge of sculpture and the city of Rome.
The narrative seamlessly follows Charles, Piero and Maria; three characters who lead very different lives in the beginning yet soon come together thanks to the strong binds of love and friendship. Their stories are turbulent and vast; thus, Novak’s clever pace keeps time, focusing on the right character at the right time to ensure the narrative never loses impetus.
Although the synopsis suggests An Uprising in Rome is a love story; the love goes beyond that which passes between Charles and Maria. Novak explores how multi-faceted love is. Love can build and shatter. Love can be felt for another or for a cause; such as Piero and Maria’s dedication to Young Italy. How Love can quickly contradict itself and in moments where Charles seeks to protect Maria, he simply angers her. Therefore, Charles, Maria and Piero are soon fighting to survive in the midst of stasis in Rome.
Novak’s description and use of Rome as a setting is magnificent. As someone who has visited the city, Novak’s dismissal of describing Rome in detail is perfect. It allows the city to house the love and struggle in this story without taking over as the city, steeped in ancient grandeur, often does. This, coupled with Novak’s excellent conveyance of the civil strife which occurred after Pia Nono’s ascension as the new head of the Papal States, created a narrative which delivers more than romance and history. It intertwines multiple genres (romance, thriller and historical fiction) to become a fantastic piece of literary fiction.
Subsequently, even though I am not sure if this is Novak’s debut novel, I certainly hope this is not his last.