Somehow this novel managed to make the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius and the burial of both Pompeii and Herculaneum downright boring. Probably because the first 3/4ths of the book happen BEFORE the eruption.
In fact, most of the story is about an engineer trying to figure out how to fix an aqueduct and prevent a severe water shortage — when all the time, the actual problem results from early geological changes that signal the volcano is about to erupt.
I wound up skipping large sections of the narrative, which might make my review a bit unfair. But that’s the way it goes.