(Cover picture courtesy of Fyrefly’s Book Blog.)
The marriage of Marc Antony and Cleopatra is one of the greatest love stories of all time. Feared and hunted by the powers in Rome, the lovers choose to die by their own hands as the triumphant armies of Anthony’s rival, Octavian, sweep into Egypt. When their orphaned children are taken in chains to Rome, only two—the ten-year-old twins Selene and Alexander—survive the journey. As they come of age, they are buffeted by the personal ambitions of Octavian’s family and court, by the ever-present threat of a slave rebellion, and by the longings deep within their own hearts.
Based on meticulous research, Cleopatra’s Daughter is a fascinating portrait of imperial Rome and of the people and events of this most tumultuous period in human history. Emerging from the shadow of the past, Selene must confront the same forces that destroyed her mother and struggle to meet a different fate. A young woman of irresistible charm and preternatural intelligence, Selene will capture your heart.
So much is made of Antony and Cleopatra’s relationship that it’s almost sickening. But very few novels follow the story of Cleopatra Selene and Alexander Helios, the son and daughter of this famous couple. Michelle Moran has finally shed light on these obscure people and really brings ancient Egypt and ancient Rome to life. She has obviously done her research and unlike Conn Iggulden’s Emperor series, I did not find one single historical inaccuracy. In fact, I actually learned quite a bit, which is the point of historical fiction.
The book is told from the point of view of Selene, who is a wonderful narrator. The young daughter of a powerful queen, she behaves more like an adult than a child, despite being only ten years old at the beginning of the story. This makes the book much more appealing for older teens as well as the younger ones because she is a very interesting character. The plot is not exactly fast-paced, but it’s rare to find such plots in historical fiction. Overall, it was a very enjoyable read.
I recommend this book to any teenage girl, even if they are not interested in history. Once Michelle Moran’s amazing writing sucks them into the world of Selene, they won’t even notice they’re learning about history. As a bonus, this novel may spark an interest in history that could last a lifetime—it started my little sister’s interest in history. Just days before she read it, she proclaimed, “I hate history! It’s so boring!” Now I dare you to try to take away her precious historical fiction novels.
I give this book 5/5 stars.