Dec 4, 2009

Cleopatra's Daughter

Michelle Moran

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Crown; 1st edition (September 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307409120
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307409126
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.5 x 1.5 inches 
  • I got it from: the author in exchange for a review
First give me a moment to make a loud happy squeal, because I'm sooooo happy to have read this book! Michelle was my guest blogger in October. She allowed me to host a giveaway and we had an interview (you can find the post here). My own copy arrived three weeks ago, and due to lack of time, I finished it just last week. I'm still thrilled about it (imagine me squealing again). But enough of my squealing. Here goes the review.

After Cleopatra's defeat and suicide, her children Selene, Alexandre and Ptolemy are taken to Rome as captives. The little Ptolemy doesn't survive the long journey (this was my first crying moment). Once in Rome, they are treated as a Prince and Princess of Egypt, though in golden chains, but all effort is put into making them as Roman as they could be. Their intention is to return to Egypt, but Caesar Octavian has other plans. So does the Red Eagle, a rebel who fights against slavery and threatens to shake up the foundations of Rome, where a third of the population are slaves. Who is the Read Eagle? How does Selene get involved into his fight, and will Octavian succeed in his plans to remove the only surviving descendants of the Ptolemy dynasty?

I was never much of a history fan, but this story has swept me off my feet. It's wonderful when the passion of the author shines through the pages as it does here; Michelle, who has been to numerous archeological sites all over the world, has resurrected Rome to every single detail. I never experienced Rome so real, starting from the descriptions of the buildings, inhabitants, arts and customs to weather, clothing and food. Though the novel is based on historical facts, I never got the impression that any of them were slowing down the action.Michelle Moran has turned a history lesson into an exciting, thrilling, compelling novel that kept me up reading deep in the night, ans I only wish I had it few years ago, when this era was taught in school!

Cleopatra's Daughter was an exciting read from the very first page. It's narrated from the perspective of Selene, a pretty, but also very intelligent, artistically talented and responsible girl who is determined to survive and revive her mother's kingdom. Selene is a character whom you'll sympathize with throughout the novel and keep your fingers crossed for. She's the heiress of Egypt, but she's also a young girl (eleven when she comes to Rome, fifteen at the end of the novel) who experiences first love, broken heart, injustice and treachery, political games and social ailments. Can you imagine what were teenagers like in ancient Rome? They loved shopping, games, nice clothes, make-up, being pretty for the guys they like. They didn't like school much either and would rather spend the time hanging out and partying with their friends. Sounds familiar?
Each character is well-developed and unique. They all have their own stories and carry their burdens, and it was fascinating to watch them grow as they come of age. At the end of the book is an appendix on what happened to them afterwards. The sad story of Julia and Marcellus was a bitter surprise. Who would have thought it would end up so tragically? There's also a timetable, a map of Rome, a list of characters and a glossary for better understanding.

The mystery of the Red Eagle had me guessing to the last page. There were just so many characters who might have been the mysterious fighter for abolition of slavery.When the veil of mystery was finally lifted, it was so perfectly obvious. That simple and yet powerful resolution and the revelation of a beautiful love story was my last crying moment and a reason for another squeal-I want more!

I doubt this review has captured how I fell about Cleopatra's Daughter. It's definitely one of my favorite books this year. It's also a book I'd recommend to everyone, no matter of what age and interest in history or historical fiction. Indulge yourself in this time-travel and find out what is so enchanting about Cleopatra and her daughter.
Watch the trailer for the book:

Thank you, Michelle!
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