Nine-year-old Lawrence is the man in his family. He watches protectively over his mother and his wilful little sister Jemima. He is the one who keeps things in order, especially when, quite suddenly, his mother decides the three of them must leave their life in England behind.
Their destination is Rome, where she lived when she was young, and as they drive through the night in a car filled to bursting, the excitement takes them back to those happier days. For Lawrence, fascinated by stories of popes and emperors, Rome is an adventure. Though short of money, and passed from one to another of his mother's old friends, it seems that little by little their new life is beginning to take shape. But the mystery that brought them to Italy will not quite leave them in peace.
When We Were Romans is a haunting psychological novel, another masterful work from the author of the prize-winning English Passengers . Powerfully evoking the feelings of childhood -- the triumphs, the jealousies, the fears, the possessions, the love -- it is most of all the story of Lawrence, of how, with a wisdom well in advance of his years, he strives to keep his family together, as everything he understands is turned upside down.