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Friday, November 20, 2009

My review of Cleopatra's Daughter by Michelle Moran

Synopsis of the book:

The marriage of Marc Antony and Cleopatra is one of the greatest love stories of all time, a tale of unbridled passion with earth-shaking political consequences. Feared and hunted by the powers in Rome, the lovers choose to die by their own hands as the triumphant armies of Antony’s revengeful rival, Octavian, sweep into Egypt. Their three orphaned children are taken in chains to Rome; only two– the ten-year-old twins Selene and Alexander–survive the journey. Delivered to the household of Octavian’s sister, the siblings cling to each other and to the hope that they will return one day to their rightful place on the throne of Egypt. As they come of age, they are buffeted by the personal ambitions of Octavian’s family and court, by the ever-present threat of slave rebellion, and by the longings and desires deep within their own hearts.

The fateful tale of Selene and Alexander is brought brilliantly to life in Cleopatra’s Daughter. Recounted in Selene’s youthful and engaging voice, it introduces a compelling cast of historical characters: Octavia, the emperor Octavian’s kind and compassionate sister, abandoned by Marc Antony for Cleopatra; Livia, Octavian's bitter and jealous wife; Marcellus, Octavian’s handsome, flirtatious nephew and heir apparent; Tiberius, Livia’s sardonic son and Marcellus’s great rival for power; and Juba, Octavian’s watchful aide, whose honored position at court has far-reaching effects on the lives of the young Egyptian royals.

Selene’s narrative is animated by the concerns of a young girl in any time and place–the possibility of finding love, the pull offriendship and family, and the pursuit of her unique interests and talents. While coping with the loss of both her family and her ancestral kingdom, Selene must find a path around the dangers of a foreign land. Her accounts of life in Rome are filled with historical details that vividly capture both the glories and horrors of the times. She dines with the empire’s most illustrious poets and politicians, witnesses the creation of the Pantheon, and navigates the colorful, crowded marketplaces of the city where Roman-style justice is meted out with merciless authority.

Based on meticulous research, Cleopatra’s Daughter is a fascinating portrait of imperial Rome and of the people and events of this glorious and most tumultuous period in human history. Emerging from the shadows of the past, Selene, a young woman of irresistible charm and preternatural intelligence, will capture your heart.

My review:

Cleopatra's Daughter pulled me into another world during the time period right before Christ was born and held me there until the end. I thoroughly enjoyed it. The story reminds me a lot of Francine Rivers' "The Mark of the Lion" series, however, the focus and characters in Cleopatra's Daughter and the theme of the novel was totally different. The culture of the times was very different and yet also similar to the perversion in our society today. This was very realistically portrayed without being disgusting. I loved how the setting was so rich with detail that you truly do escape back in time while flipping the pages.

I didn't want to stop reading and was up until midnight for the past four nights reading this wonderful portrayal of characters rarely mentioned in historical fiction (at least that I've heard of). If I had realized at first that the story was mostly told from a pre-adolescent's POV, I may not have been interested in the book, however, it captivated me to the end. There were no slow spots, no places where content dragged, and many fantastic twists and turns greeted me along the way. I also felt like I learned a little more about the time before Christ entered the scene and more about the ruler, Tiberius Caesar, who reigned during the time of Christ. And it was also edgy enough to hold me until the end. Bravo!

Cleopatra's Daughter was published by Crown and released in September 2009.


Lee Smith said...

Sounds like a wonderful read. I loved Mark of the Lion. I also can't remember reading any stories about Cleopatra's children before.

Thanks for a great review. :o)

Praying Mom said...

Hi Michelle---
I have a blog award for you!
I enjoy dropping by and reading often. I'll try to comment more! =)

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