Cleopatra’s Daughter
Michelle Moran
September 15, 2009
Crown
448 Pages
Historical Fiction

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 revengeful rival, Octavian, sweep into Egypt. 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.

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 times. 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 most tumultuous period in human history. Emerging from the shadows of the past, Selene, a young woman of irresistible charm and preternatural intelligence, will capture your heart.

Michelle Moran is a relatively new author to me.  Last year I devoured both of her books, Nefertiti (review) and The Heretic Queen (review), and I LOVED them.  I loved them so much that when I received an email asking me if I’d like to participate in a blog tour of Moran’s newest, Cleopatra’s Daughter, I jumped at the chance.  And by jumped I mean that I’ve never replied to an email so fast in my entire life (or with so many exclamation points in my reply).  I was beyond excited to finally get my hands on this book.

With such high expectations, I have to say that I was a TINY bit nervous that the novel wouldn’t live up to what I was hoping it would be.  I shouldn’t have been worried, though, because Cleopatra’s Daughter was every bit as wonderful as I knew it would be!  Once again, Moran has taken a little-known historical figure and written a completely dazzling, engaging novel around her.  In this case, the novel revolved around Selene, the only daughter of the legendary couple Cleopatra and Marc Antony, but there was so much more to this book than just Selene’s story.  The amount of research and attention to detail that must have gone into this novel is just incredible – SO many events take place throughout the book, so many people and places that Moran must have spent tons of time learning about and then recreating to fit the images she had of how they must have lived in imperial Rome.

One thing I love about Moran’s books, including this one, is the amazing ability she has to create an entire world and make it come alive on the pages.  While reading Cleopatra’s Daughter, I was seeing what Selene was seeing, experiencing what she was experiencing, etc.  I had that feeling of being IN the book with her.  I cannot imagine that this is easy for an author to achieve, and I love the fact that Michelle Moran has done it with all three of her books.

I also love the characters that Moran creates in her novels.  Selene felt so real to me, I wanted to get to know her more and pull her right out of the book and into my own life!  The characters in this novel were all incredibly realistic.  There was love, jealousy, friendship, rivalries, cruelty, and every other type of human emotion and action sprinkled all throughout the novel.  Although the book took place in 30 B.C., in Rome, the characters were written in such an honest way.  I can’t imagine, having read this novel, that people in that time and place were anything but how Moran imagined them.

I am so thrilled that I was given the opportunity to read Cleopatra’s Daughter, because it was everything I was hoping for and more.  For fans of historical fiction, this is a must-read.

So, now that you know how much I enjoyed Cleopatra’s Daughter, I bet you want to read it yourself.  Well, you’re in luck, because Michelle has generously offered ONE brand new copy of Cleopatra’s Daughter to one of my readers!  To enter, just leave a comment for me and answer this simple question:  What obscure historical figure would YOU be interested in reading about? One entry per person, and please leave me an email address where I can reach you if you win.  This contest will close on September 14, and I will draw a winner on the 15th (the day the book is released).

Thanks and good luck!