Saturday, October 3, 2009

Cleopatra's Daughter: A Novel

Rated and reviewed by : BookingMama

I am happy to report that I was not disappointed with CLEOPATRA'S DAUGHTER. It definitely met my expectations (and they were set pretty high.) Ever since back in high school (where I took four years of Latin and watched I Claudius every Friday), I have been extremely interested in ancient Rome. I have read a few books about Rome throughout the years and I was addicted to the HBO series Rome, but I still want more! I don't think I will ever get tired of these historical figures and their antics!I love the way that Ms. Moran decided to tell the story in this novel. She wrote the book in first person through the voice of Selena, the daughter of Cleopatra and Marc Antony. The story begins when Mark Antony and Cleopatra take their own lives, and their remaining children -- Selena and her two brothers -- are taken away in chains from Egypt to Rome by their enemy Octavian. Selena was a wonderful young girl (and eventually a wonderful young woman) who seemed mature beyond her years. Of course, she grew up in the refined and cultured Egypt; and she spent a great deal of time being educated with adults. I thought the blend of Selena's maturity along with her naivete because of her age made this story and her insight extra-special. I especially loved Selena's reactions when she reached Rome -- that it wasn't anywhere near as sophisticated as Egypt!I absolutely loved Selena and I truly appreciated her spunk! It was clear to her that she was living as a prisoner under Octavian's rule, and yet she still never forget her parents and her homeland. She wasn't afraid to say what was on her mind (at times to her detriment); however, she still had enough sense to know how to play the different characters against each other. In addition, I liked that Ms. Moran portrayed Selena as a young girl who was very bright and loved to study architecture. In this novel, Selena not only studied with a skilled teacher, but she also used her talent and knowledge about buildings to help design new structures.Although Selena was a young girl and did make a few mistakes along the way, she still had many admirable traits. First and foremost, I loved how loyal she was to her family and friends. I don't want to give too much away, but suffice it to say that she was extremely generous and grateful to those who helped her. In many ways, CLEOPATRA'S DAUGHTER was a coming-of-age story about Selena, and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing her mature throughout this novel. I especially liked the ending and how Selena came to realize who and what she should value.It probably goes without saying that I loved all of the historical information that was woven into this novel. I'm sure Ms. Moran embellished the lives of the main characters, but it seems to me that many of the characters in ancient Rome needed little help. Everything I've ever seen or read about the lives of the early Romans is filled with all the elements of a good story (or at least, a soap opera) -- love, adultery, affairs, mystery, murder, etc. Much of this novel brought back memories of things I had already known, but I was amazed by how many new things I learned about this ancient civilizations of Egypt and Rome. I can't believe how advanced these societies were and how little some things have changed over thousands of years.Michelle Moran is without a doubt one of my very favorite authors. I will read anything and everything she writes -- guaranteed. I think she is a master of historical fiction, and I believe that there are few writers that capture my interest like she does. The amount of research she conducts for each of her books is absolutely amazing; and what's even more astounding is how many ideas and projects she has going at one time. In addition to being a great writer, Ms. Moran is really as nice as can be too. She is extremely friendly (and generous) with book clubs and bloggers, and she even has a special place on her website just for bloggers. Make sure you visit her site and check out all of her beautiful photos from her travels around the world.Of course, I highly recommend CLEOPATRA'S DAUGHTER, especially for book clubs. My group discussed NEFERTITI (along with a chat with Ms. Moran), and it was a wonderful meeting. I think that CLEOPATRA'S DAUGHTER would make for an equally interesting discussion. One thing that I found so special about this particular Ms. Moran novel is that it is geared towards both the adult as well as the YA audience. In fact, there are multiple reading guides for this novel - one for YA and one for adults. I can't wait until the girls in my mother-daughter book club are old enough to discuss (and appreciate) this novel! What I loved about both guides is that there was a great mix of historical questions about Rome and the culture as well as questions about the different characters and their actions.Truth be told, I enjoyed CLEOPATRA'S DAUGHTER so much that I'm hoping for a sequel or a prequel! So many of the characters in this book were absolutely fascinating and could definitely provide enough material for their own story!

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