Ocelot Press Book of the Month: March 2021

WHERE IT ALL HAPPENED

A soothsayer (very astute)

tries to warn of impending dispute.

But though told to beware,

Caesar says “I don’t care!”

then he’s killed by a backstabbing Brute.

Today on the blog, I’m delighted to be hosting the wonderful Sue Barnard, writing friend, fellow Ocelot, and the editor of my Kindred Spirits series and The Raided Heart. Her novel, The Unkindest Cut of All is the first Ocelot Press Book of the Month, and today, she’s here to tell us all about the setting for one of the most famous assassination plots in history. And, it happens, a place I visited whilst on holiday last September! Over to you Sue…

BEWARE THE IDES OF MARCH…

Brian Wilmer is God’s gift to amateur dramatics – and he knows it.  So when the Castlemarsh Players take the ambitious decision to stage Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, there is only one man who can play the title role – even though Brian’s posturing “prima donna” attitude has, over the years, won him few friends and many foes.

Rehearsals progress apace, and the production draws ever closer.  But when another member of the cast has to drop out due to illness, local journalist Sarah Carmichael (a stalwart of the Players’ backstage crew) suddenly finds herself called upon to step into the breach at the eleventh hour.

Not surprisingly, Sarah finds that Brian is in his egotistical element playing the mighty Caesar.  The fact that the final performance of the play takes place on the infamous Ides of March – the day when, according to tradition, Caesar was fatally stabbed – only adds to the excitement.

But tragedy is waiting in the wings.  And when it strikes, it falls to Sarah – with the help of Brian’s personable and fascinating nephew Martin Burns – to uncover the incredible truth of what really happened…

The Unkindest Cut of All is available from Amazon in Kindle and paperback formats.  To celebrate it being the Ocelot Press Book of the Month, the Kindle edition is currently available at the special offer price of just 77p (or the equivalent in your local currency).  To find out more, click here.  

And here’s a special treat for anyone who orders the e-book during this month.  Post a screenshot of your Amazon order in the Ocelot Press Readers Group on Facebook, and you will be entered into a draw to win a signed copy of the paperback edition.  The draw will stay open until the end of March 2021.

Julius Caesar was assassinated in Rome on the Ides of March in the year 44BC.  According to Shakespeare, the assassination took place on the steps of the Capitol.  Caesar had previously been warned by a soothsayer not to go the Senate meeting at the Capitol on that day (in the famous line “Beware the Ides of March”), but paid no need to the advice.  He was stabbed many times by a gang of conspirators – including Marcus Brutus, whom Caesar had previously regarded as a trusted friend.  His last words were reputed to be “Et tu, Brute?” (“You too, Brutus?”)

But Shakespeare’s version of events contains one or two significant errors.  In addition to the famous anachronistic striking clock in the first scene of Act 2, the setting for the assassination is not historically accurate.  The Capitolium (as the Romans called it) wasn’t a building.  It was in fact the Capitoline Hill, the smallest of Rome’s famous seven hills.  At the time of the assassination the Senate was meeting in the Theatre of Pompey, about half a mile from the Capitoline Hill.  The building was located in what is now the Largo di Torre Argentina.

The site is now a cat sanctuary. 

(I did wonder whether to mention at this point that there is now a brand of catfood called Cesar, but I decided not to.  That would be too silly.)

All photos by Jennifer C Wilson.


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