This novel, happily, was an entirely different reading experience as that of my previous post. Cleopatra’s Daughter by Megan Moran was a delightful novel full of intrigue, danger, comedy and tragedy. Moran is an exceptional writer, and I really enjoyed her work.
It’s a fictional story which recounts the events of the life of Kleopatra Selene, daughter of the famous Kleopatra VII. At the beginning of the novel she is eleven years old and Egypt is falling to a Rome under the rule of Octavian, known later as Caesar Augustus. She and her twin brother Alexander, along with their younger brother Ptolemy, are taken as “guests” back to Rome after the suicides of their mother and father (Marc Antony). There they live with Octavia, the sister of Octavian, and are educated alongside the noble children of those closest to the Roman consul. The entire time they long for their home in Alexandria, and know that, though they become close friends with the daughter and nephew of Caesar, they remain a threat to Octavian’s authority in Egypt and are therefore on dangerous ground. Selene struggles daily with both ordinary and extraordinary concerns. As she grows from a child of eleven to a woman of fifteen (marriageable age in Rome), she must cope with the loss of her family and the loss of her kingdom and birthright, but also with her period, her mischievous brother, and her jealousy of her best friend.
Lest you get the wrong impression, this novel is in no way written for kids. Though she is a young character, the novel is written for adults, and Selene must face very adult concerns. The target audience is women, so guys, I wouldn’t recommend this one for you. Ladies, between the suspense and the emotional scenes that sometimes knock the wind out of you (and the sweet romance that comes as quite a surprise), there’s no time for boredom. I didn’t want to put the novel down, and got frustrated every time I had to. Moran is a wonderful writer, and skillfully plays with her readers’ emotions, at one moment building one’s hopes and crushing them on the next page. Selene is a delightful heroine, strong and brave yet distinctly feminine. She enjoys shopping with her friend Julia, but her true passion is for architecture, design, and drawing, and she becomes the apprentice to the premiere architect in Rome. She is sharp and intelligent, educated in the library of Alexandria, and because the novel is written in her voice, the reader gets an excellent feel for just how smart she is. Reading anything from the point of view of a strong, intelligent female protagonist is always a pleasure.
Being written about a period with which I’m not tremendously familiar, it’s also encouraged me to educate myself more on the history of ancient Rome and the drama between Rome and Egypt especially. Be expecting a review on Cleopatra VII’s biography in a few days. I’ve also been watching Rome, which, while obviously well-researched, is in no way adherent to truth. Still…I love that show 🙂 And this book!