Tuesday 15 September 2009

Review: Cleopatra's Daughter - Michelle Moran

Published: September 2009
Pages: 448
Genre: Historical

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. 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.
(authors site)

Where to start, first I love history, but some books can be a bit dry sometimes, this one is not. It's a fantastic piece that made me reading every word and turning the pages fast. When it come to real historical persons I tend to google, but I just could not do it here. I wanted to read it. It's also great in another aspect, many books like this tend to go through the whole life story, instead here we read about a couple of years when she is young. Back in the book there are some historic facts what happened to everyone later, oh do not read those beforehand like I happened to do, kind of spoiled me there since I didn't know the history from before.

This book takes place in the glory that is Rome, Marc Anthony and Cleopatra are dead and their surviving children are brought to Rome. But they are lucky and the twins are cared for Octavian's sister who was once married to Marc Anthony. They are young and they are scared, but time moves on and they seem to be just a part of the family, as long as they don't anger anyone.

Selene is a wonderful narrator, she has an idealistic soul and through her we see Rome. I often say when I read books like this that I would have wanted to live there. But I can honestly say now that I would not have wanted to be a woman in ancient Rome. One of the richest women in Rome gives birth but the husband wants a son and throws the baby girl to the wolves. A beautiful free woman is put on trial after a rich merchant who lust after her claims she was a slave girl who got kidnapped from him as a baby. Noble women get handed over from husband after husband when their father's decided they can make a better match. No one asks the women, they are not free. So no, Rome has no glory for me, and I admire Selene who sees the injustice and knows she might end up just the same.

She has hopes, she falls in love, she is idealistic and she is aware of her status and the danger she and her brother is to Rome. But she still lives, go to school and sketches. She is a wonderful artist with aims to be an architect and one of the great ones take her as his apprentice. She shows Octavian (later emperor Augustus) that she is worth something.

This was a pager turner, I wanted to know what would happen to the twins. Michelle Moran keeps history alive and it feels like you are there living it, a fresh voice that makes it feel like fiction even though these are real people that have lived. But she does not just talk facts, she makes history come alive. She even had me near tears at one point.

I highly recommend this book, it was beautifully written and even thought I have never really cared for Cleopatra, now from reading about her daughter I am suddenly fascinated. I am really curious if Moran has managed to bring her other characters alive the same way in her 2 previous book. If so then she is a true author of historical books and I want to read more.

It's a story about normal life in Rome, about loss, about love, friendship, and a side story about red Eagle, who wants better life for slaves and to set them free. An interesting story and Selene wonders who he can be. I liked that twist to the story because it's important to show real life and not just hide behind palace walls.

Now at the end I feel a loss, I will miss Selene, it was lovely to read about her and I hate to see the book end. If you are not a fan of historical fiction then perhaps this one can show you otherwise, give it a try.

received a copy for a review


  1. Hi:) I'm reading Cleopatra's daughter now- and you're so right..you just can't put it down! , Moran is fantastic and, yes, in her other book I've read, Nefertiti, the characters also come to life. Great review, Thanks:)

  2. B,

    Wonderful review. I can't wait to read this book.

    Have a great day. :)


  3. Thank you for the review! It sounds so good! :)

  4. Lucy,
    I know, I had such a hard time putting it down, but I needed sleep. I read this morning when I woke up and could not stop.

    It was wonderful, she is a great author. I so enjoyed this book.

    It was, I highly recommend it:D

  5. so glad you really enjoyed this one. I just won it!! Yahoo!!!! Loved the review Linda!!

  6. Blod, i am so jealous that you got to read this book...great review!

  7. Beautiful review Blodeuedd. This book is sounding more and more tempting with each review I read. I know too that Barbara is really excited to dive into it.

    Thanks for the recommendation!!

    ;) VFG

  8. I never read a historical but now I want this book. Sounds really fascinating.
    Great review.

  9. Staci,
    Yay great news! I hope you will love it too, I just wanted to keep on reading

    I am very happy cos of that too. I found a fav new author.

    I wonder what she will think about it, hopefully love it too. it was a great story that had me hooked.

    I know, some tend to avoid them but this one was good, and real.

  10. A wonderful review & I couldn't agree with you more. I've read & loved all of Michelle's books, and I do think she has a gift for bringing characters to life. Definitely a favourite author of mine :-)

  11. Teddyree,
    Loved all of them well that sounds good to me :) I would love to read The Heretic Queen since ever since I read about Ramses and Nefertiti (sp) I have liked that couple. I do have to read more by her

  12. Hi B!

    Sounds soooo good! I'll have to find a way to pick this one up.

    The Heretic Queen sounds good too.

    Great review!!

    Dottie :)

  13. Great review! Glad you loved this one. I'll be reading it soon.

    I highly recommend Moran's first two books. I absolutely loved them, and I don't think you'd be disappointed.

    Diary of an Eccentric

  14. Hi Dottie,
    I enjoyed it so much, great writing an I really want to read at least the Heretic Queen now too :)

    Good news, cos if she wrote like she write now then I am sure I will enjoy them. She really captures history

  15. There are so many great reviews out on this book! I've read Nefertiti and just bought The Heretic Queen. I'll have to break down and buy this one soon!

  16. Arleigh,
    I do wanna read The Heretic Queen so much, I know the story, and I would love to see her take on it, and on the other one too



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