Novel PASTimes: Ness, tell us about your people, the Catuvellauni. I’ve never heard of them!
Ness: The Catuvellauni are a Celtic tribe in Britannia. The Romans conquered us decades ago. We are farmers not warriors now. For the most part, we live at peace with the Romans, but Britannia’s new legate, Vocula, is an overweening tyrant. He raised taxes again. My village is suffering.
Novel PASTimes: How did you meet the Tribune Aquilus?
Ness: I didn’t really. He was just there. It all happened so quickly. Must we speak about this? I used up every last ligula of patience I have with him months ago. Ecce the man could make Zeno, father of stoicism, lose all stoic calm. Also, if I ever meet Zeno, I’d like to ring the man’s neck.
Oh, you’ve never heard about stoicism. Let me explain the Stoic philosophy. Let’s say you’re in a difficult situation, perhaps your horse fell in a ditch, or you left your wife for months on end without so much as writing a letter, or you made a life-altering decision about your son without even asking your wife’s opinion. Stoicism prompts a person to think, what would a normal, empathetic human being do in this situation? Very well, let’s make sure we never do that. Can I just paint on some wode and scream like a berserker right now? If you haven’t guessed, Aquilus is a stoic.
Novel PASTimes: What made you decide to marry him?
Ness: Not my finest moment. How about we talk about my horse, such a beautiful creature, or the sheep farm I’m planning, or really anything in the empire besides why I married that man. Have I no wits?
Novel PASTimes: Can you tell us about where you and Aquilus live?
Ness: People mill everywhere, bumping against each other, sending up a stench, helping the Italian sun overheat the capital of the known world, Rome. The people here are spiteful. The women hate me. They pass judgment on me because I’m a Celt and label me as a savage barbarian. I miss Britannia. I miss my sister and my best friend.
Novel PASTimes: How is marriage to a man from a different people, with different values going for you?
Ness: I’m getting a divorce. Does that answer your questioon?
Novel PASTimes: So, ah, not going so well. Do you love Aquilus? What do you think your marriage holds in store? Is there any hope?
Ness: I thought I did, I mean . . . I’m starting to cry now. I never do this. I don’t cry. It’s like he doesn’t even care I exist. Why doesn’t he care? I had so many dreams for him and me. It was all supposed to be, well, different. Does that make sense?
I mean, who on their wedding day plans for divorce? I tried very hard to make things work. He hates me. In truth, he does. Nothing I ever do pleases him and he’s obsessed with the glory of Rome.
If he does hate me though, then why doesn’t the stulte man just sign the divorce papers I’ve been thrusting at him? He refuses to. In Rome with confereatio usus marriage, the husband has to give the wife permission to divorce him. That’s the most woman-hating law I know. Celts do things much differently, I’ll have you know. Anyway, Aquilus refuses to sign the divorce papers and I cannot comprehend why.
Why won’t he? Could he still love me?
I’m done contorting my wits over this. Self-reflection is not my strong point. I don’t know why you’d want to read my story really. It’s a catastrophe, maybe I’m a catastrophe too. Personally, though I think it’s probably Aquilus who is the most a catastrophe. Or, I don’t know, just read my story if you care to. Romance novels always have a happy ending, they say, but I don’t see how that could possibly work out in my story. Maybe if I marry Cedric.
Novel PASTimes: Hmm . . . I guess we’ll leave it there, Ness. Thanks for taking the time for the interview with us.