Cleopatra's Daughter by Michelle Moran
2009 Crown Publishers
Historical Romances can go one of two ways for me.I had a burnout moment for a while (OD'd on Phillippa Gregory) but I felt that I was ready for a comeback. I was right and CLEOPATRA'S DAUGHTER was a good 'welcome back'.
Almost everyone knows the story of Cleopatra and Marc Antony. One of the greatest love stories of all time, killed herself so that she wouldn't have to live without him, yadda, yadda, yadda. I dont think too many people stop to ask themselves what happened afterward. I never did. I never even knew Cleopatra had children. But she did. And they had their own interesting and complicated lives.
I really enjoyed this book. It was a delightful mixture of history, love story and real life situations without being lecture-hallish (i love when I get to make up my own words) or long winded. The author was able to create scenes that sometimes allowed the reader to forget they weren't reading contemporary literature and really just enjoy the characters. And Moran managed to avoid the part of historical romance that I dread, when the writer gets caught up in authentic language. Sometimes that can be so distracting. But the language in CLEOPATRA'S DAUGHTER was not overly Latin, Greek or anything else.
By the way, the authors website (michellemoran.com) is amazing. There is this really great interactive map that shows Rome in the Selene's day.
From the book jacket:
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 vengeful rival, Octavian, sweep into Egypt. Their three orphaned children are taken in chains to Rome, but 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
Juba: Octavian’s ever-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 time. 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 tumultuous period in human history. Emerging from the shadows of history, Selene, a young woman of irresistible charm and preternatural intelligence, will capture your heart.