Thursday, April 04, 2013

Cleopatra's Daughter

I had some mixed feelings about Cleopatra's Daughter, but ended up giving it four out of five stars on GoodReads, so I guess the feelings were more positive than negative in the final tally.  I think the basic idea of the subject was great--what happened to Cleopatra and Marc Anthony's children after the two of them committed suicide following their defeat by Octavian?  I did trust that Michelle Moran did her homework and that the society, geography, architecture, etc. were accurate, as well as the ultimate fate of the three children who were taken by Octavian after he conquered Egypt.

My main negative issues were with the voice of Selene, Cleopatra's daughter.  Unfortunately, she ended up sounding more like a modern teen than I care for.  I kept on thinking that the book was sort of a cross between a Magic Tree House book and I Claudius, which I recently finished listening to (still need to blog about that one!).  Selene and her twin brother, Alexander, pal around with Marcellus and Julia (Octavian's heir and daughter, respectively)--getting into scrapes, gossiping, flirting, ditching school, hanging out at the racetrack, shopping, and basically giving the reader a view into "life in Ancient Rome."  I loved reading Magic Tree House books with my kids when they were young, and this book definitely had that vibe.

I'm pretty good at suspending my disbelief, but I never for an instant believed that I was really getting a believable vision of who Selene might have been or how she might have lived. It was a fun book to read, and I enjoyed it, but I never really believed that the characters in the book lived in the world depicted.

I'm reading Moran's Madame Tussaud later this year, so I'll be interested in see if I feel differently about it.

This book counts for both my TBR Pile challenge and my Historical Fiction challenge. I'm actually very proud of my progress in all three challenges that I signed up for in 2013.  It's great to read books that have been on my shelf for years!


  1. An interesting post - I like the way you describe this book and your mixed feelings about it. Sometimes I can't put my finger on why I have mixed feelings about a book and reading your post I realise that it's that inability to suspend my disbelief that's the cause.

    I haven't read any of Moran's books, although I've looked at them in the library and put them back on the shelf. I'll be interested to see what you think of Madame Tussaud when you've read that.

    As for I, Claudius, I loved that when I read it years ago and have been wondering whether to re-read it sometime - you've given me a push to get it down from the bookshelves.

  2. Great commentary as always!

    I had heard about this book and was interested in in it. Your description of Selene sounding too contemporary could really ruin it for me I think.

  3. I loved this book when I read it a few years ago. I didn't notice that Selene's voice made her sound too modern. I'm sure teens were gossiping and flirting and getting in trouble even in ancient Rome. Maybe that would make it a more interesting hist fic novel for teens?