PS: 43 Cleopatra’s Daughter

ancient egypt, ancient rome, books, cleopatra, cleopatra selene II, cleopatra's daughter, historical fiction, marc antony, michelle moran, octavia, octavian, roman empire / Wednesday, October 25th, 2017

Date Started: 8/7/17

Date Finished: 8/16/17

For #43 of PopSugar’s Reading Challenge: A book with a family member term in the title.

It’s been a while since I’ve done a book review. It’s been a crazy couple of months. 

A few years ago, I read Michelle Moran’s Nefertiti, and I devoured it in a two days. On a side note if you like reading about Ancient Egypt than I highly recommend that book as well. Unfortunately not much is known or has been used in popular culture. So when approaching writing about Queen Cleopatra VII’s (or simply Cleopatra as she is affectionately know in the West) family, she  had to sieve through fact and fiction from historians, contemporary writers of Cleopatra’s time, and of course popular culture to try and dig to see who Cleopatra was. With writing Nefertiti as a reader, I’m going to assume she didn’t have as many problems. There is historical evidence to back Nefertiti, but there is also a lot of gray areas that Moran could easily work into. Though the bust of Nefertiti is a cultural icon, it’s just her appearance, not her character like Cleopatra.

Instead of focusing on Cleopatra, Moran begins her novel with the iconic deaths of Cleopatra and Marc Antony through the eyes of their only daughter Cleopatra Selene II (just Selene in the books). Like any good “Horatio” like character, she survives to tell the tale. Typically in popular culture, whatever medium telling the tale of Cleopatra’s life would end with this scene.Yet, Moran begins with it to focus on the characters most affected by their deaths-her children. The mythos surrounding Cleopatra all but ignores her role as a mother. Through Cleopatra’s Daughter, Selene tells her life after this devastation, how it felt to be taken from her homeland and brought up in Rome by her father’s ex-wife Octavia, the sister to the future Emperor Augustus or as he is known throughout much of the book Octavian.

Now that I had a historical spiel about Cleopatra and Marc Antony’s children, I will move onto the actual book. I adored it. I’ve read a lot of historical fictions in my time, to be honest, this is one of the few that encompasses a large scale of the culture of the time period without it being confusing and too technical. Moran describes everything in easy to understand ways unlike some that describe in a way that you would have to be a historian to understand

To be honest a modern reader will enjoy some of the elements Moran brings up in Cleopatra’s Daughter that makes the book exciting and not boring like some historical fictions can be. Here are the following elements that made the book extra exciting to me:

  • Selene’s portrayal. She is depicted as a strong, intelligent, highly educated young woman (similar to her mother) with a cause
  • The overhanging questions of race and blood, and what truly makes an individual a Roman
  • Romantic sub plot between Selene and Jeba II
  • The side plot of slavery and questioning its purpose
  • Problems with the differences between social statuses

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