There were a couple of moments when it was difficult to picture a general’s daughter in Roman Britain. Her expressions of “chum” and “what a blow-out” might have something to do with it.
But the key here is that you know thanks to Waugh’s preface that this is a story based on the life of Empress Helena, mother of Constantine the Great. She is meant to have made a pilgrimage to Palestine and picked up one of the pieces of the cross that Christ was crucified on.
The story starts in Colchester of all places but soon a emissary comes from Rome and is struck by love on seeing Helena and you sense that it is only a matter of time before the young princess, who lives her adventures through the pages of the ancient stories of Troy, gets a chance to escape.