Sunday, December 13, 2009
Michelle Moran's Cleopatra's Daugher ~ Reviewed
by Michelle Moran
Random House, Crown Publishers
Hardcover, 430 pages
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 of friendship 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 rating: 5 of 5 stars
What does it say when you can finish reading a book in three days from receiving it with a five week old baby causing a hiatus every two to four hours for food, changes, or just plain attention. Well... I would say that means it is a really good book!
Michelle Moran does not disappoint with her third novel, and I am excited for the fourth. She is one of those authors who writes a good book and as a reader you assume that was it, but each next novel is full of such entertainment that you are excited and cannot decide if it was better than the last.
Through the words of these pages, a reader gets to travel from Egypt to Rome and become immersed in the lives of historical figures in a way intangible before. The characters and people are brought to life on the pages and their emotions and causes are strongly felt as if a reader was a participant in their day to day lives.
This is a general market novel that I thoroughly enjoyed and would easily say it could be meant for any audience, young adult or adult. The only caution with a young adult I would say is for maturity. Be forewarned of the historically accurate references to the indulgences that the Romans participated in that may be distasteful. Each page brings to light the good and the bad of history and makes me want to delve a bit deeper and just go get a textbook and read. (Yet this is so much more entertaining!)
My favorite part is basically a Roman version of a Robin Hood wanting to bring out the very best. With issues of slavery, indiscretion, betrayal, kidnapping, murder, suicide, illness, birth, adventure, travel, romance, secrets, true love, and long lasting truth every page keeps a reader on their toes. I highly recommend this and every other novel by author Michelle Moran.
Reviewed by: Margaret Chind