I have a distinct love of anything involving Roman histories and I saw the series years ago (after being recommended to watch it following HBO's Rome), and I adored it. I love the bumbling Claudius, I loved watching all of the intrigue and dirty secrets/plots/stories (after being forced to read them all from Suetonius and other historians at University), and I fucking loved the treatment Livia got. I love it any time women are not pushed to the background, and so all in all, I really did want to get around to reading this classic novel that the series was based on.
I was not disappointed. This is a fictional autobiography of Claudius (heavily borrowing from actual facts and historical sources) with a bit of conjecture and fictional drama thrown in. It was from about the time Augustus was created emperor to the time that Claudius was declared emperor, himself. I liked that the first-person, historical retelling felt intimate. This isn't just reading about the dirty-dirty wrongs of the Julio-Claudian family, this is a friend telling you all about his whacked out family that makes him drink. Heavily.
It was fun. The characterizations are great, once again the treatment of the woman was bad ass (seriously, while I have no doubt Livia would have poisoned my ass in a heart beat, I would have at least had some fun watching the power and drama).
I look forward to the sequel.