Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Cleopatra's Daughter

by Michelle Moran

I think I am the last historical fiction buff to read a Michelle Moran book. My wonderful husband chose to "surprise" me with Cleopatra's Daughter for Christmas and I since I have been sick for the past 8 days, I found some time to read it. Wow, can she tell a story!

Cleopatra's Daughter tells the tale of twins Selene and Alexander --Marc Antony and Cleopatra's children -- as they are taken from Alexandria to Rome upon the deaths of their parents and the take over of Egypt by Octavian. Taken as prisoners, the children are welcomed into the home of Octavia, Octavian's sister and divorced wife of Marc Antony. They are raised with Octavian's own children as well as a handful of half brothers and sisters. Imagine those living arrangements! Told through the first person account of Selene, the reader discovers a stong bond between the twins and a commraderie among all the children as they attend school and partake in the pleasures of ancient Rome, from visiting the temples of the gods, shopping at the Forum to the chariot races at the Circus Maximus. The intrique that surrounds the household of Caesar is enough to give anyone an ulcer and Selene and Alexander live under constant fear that at any moment Octavian could choose to make them slaves or worse. In order to make herself useful to Caesar, Selene apprentices herself to the brilliant architect Vitruvius and helps design and eventually build many of the beautiful buildings of Octavian's Rome. Surrounded by the likes of Homer, Ovid, Agrippa and Juba we the reader, get a fascinating look at the daily life of ancient Rome, including its ugly side. Woven amongst the history are the love stories. The love triangle of Marcellus, Caesar's heir apparent, Julia and Selene as well as the forbidden love of Gallia, the Gaul slave princess and the chidren's tutor Verrius.

I knew absolutely nothing about this historical event, so every turn of the page enveloped me into the story. The vivid and descriptive writing painted such images in my head, not only could I see how dirty ancient Rome must have been, but I could hear the yelling and smell the smells as well. My historical interests tend to begin around 1450 with the Renaissance and I was not sure how I would like reading about the ancient world, but since the book blog buzz about Michelle Moran has been so positive I decided to give it a try and I am so glad I did. I will be looking for more books by her to add to my collection.

Read and reviewed for the Historical Fiction Challenge.

Rating - A

1 comment:

  1. I usually don't spend a whole lot of time in ancient Rome either, but I loved Cleopatra's Daughter. I was completely swept away by the story, and I admired Selene's intelligence and determination. I'm really looking forward to Moran's next book which will be about Madame Tussaud!

    I enjoyed your review, so I've linked to you here.