Michelle Moran has done it again! She has once again brilliantly woven fact with great story telling in Cleopatra’s Daughter. In Cleopatra’s Daughter we learn about the history of Marc Antony and Cleopatra as told by their children. I really enjoyed this novel as I didn’t know much about Marc Antony and Cleopatra beyond being the greatest love story ever so it was very interesting for me to read more about their lives and that of their children lives after their deaths.
The story begins with Marc Antony dying and Cleopatra taking her own life and leaving their three children behind in Egypt. They are taken, in chains, to Rome by Octavian, their enemy. Only two of the children survive the trip – the twins Selene and Alexander. Upon arriving there they have no idea what to expect. They think they’ll either end up being slaves or put to death but luckily enough for them Octavia, Octavian’s sister, takes them under her wing. Octavia is a truly wonderful woman and she treated the twins as she would her own.
The story is told from the point of view of Selene who at the time that they are taken to Rome is eleven years old, almost twelve. She’s a very talented artist and loves architecture. Selene was a very mature eleven years old but Michelle Moran addresses this in the back of the book. Children back in this time, children who were privileged, were very well educated and spent all their time surrounded by adults consequently putting them much beyond their years.
Selene is a very likable character. She’s got a mind of her own and knows what she wants and what she doesn’t. What she doesn’t want is to be married off to some old man. Instead she wants to build things and ends up being lucky enough to work with a skilled builder. I loved her spunk as well as her feisty attitude. When it came to slavery or the homeless children, Selene was extremely passionate. Over the years she grew to be a wonderful woman as well, still believing in the same things and trying to do her best to help where she could.
Alexander on the other hand loves to just live life and enjoy it. He loves betting on the races and going to the theatre. He doesn’t have much interest in learning or making himself useful to Octavian so that he isn’t put to death at fifteen or married off to some old woman. However as the story progresses secrets about Alexander come out that threaten to change his life forever.
This novel by Michelle Moran is full of a host of great characters – many to like and many to hate. Her vivid descriptions of Rome and the way of life in this time period is amazing – as usual Michelle has done her research well. We are drawn in by her descriptions of how on one hand Rome can be beautiful and on the other it can be horrific. She relates some of the more known Roman trials where slaves are really not given a chance at any kind of justice. It is truly amazing how much time and energy Michelle puts into her novels and it shows in a big way. It’s what makes her books impossible to put down!
I have been a huge fan of Michelle’s since I read Nefertiti and then The Heretic Queen; both of which are also huge favorites of mine. Cleopatra’s Daughter is another that will hold a special spot on the keeper shelf of my bookcase. It is exactly what I’ve come to expect from Michelle Moran – pure reading pleasure! I can’t wait for her next novel called Masks of the Revolution where she will be captivating us with the French Revolution.
To Michelle Moran for my wonderful copy of Cleopatra’s Daughter.