About the Author:
My Review of “Cleopatra’s Daughter” –
Much has been written about the relationship between Cleopatra, Queen of Eygpt and her Roman husband, Mark Antony. History marks the dramatic suicide deaths of Cleopatra and Antony as the Roman army, lead by Octavian Ceasar, conquers Eygpt and lays claim to the remarkable city of Alexandria. But little is known about the fate of the children the power couple shared, twins Alexander Helios and Cleopatra Selene and their younger brother Ptolemy.
In her dramatic new novel, “Cleopatra’s Daughter,” author Michelle Moran examines the destiny of the Egyptian royal children through the eyes and voice of Princess Selene.
After their parent’s deaths, Octavian takes Cleopatra’s children back to Rome, to live in captivity under his domain. However, only the twins survive the voyage, as six-year old Ptolemy is taken with a fever and dies, to be buried at sea. Given over to the care of Octavian’s sister Octavia, the frightened children are cast into a lifestyle of luxurious captivity, but captivity all the same.
As the twins become older, they find themselves in the thick of the politics and conspiracies that surround Octavian’s reign. Their guardian Octavia (also their father’s former wife that he abandoned for Cleopatra) is kind to them, but Livia, the emperor’s wife, is mean and always looking for ways to humiliate Selene and Alexander. And being brought up with the emperor’s children and relatives means the twins have to always be on guard, sometimes fearing for their very lives.
By telling the story through the voice of Selene, from a little girl to a young woman, Moran gives the reader a more in-depth and personal view of the history of ancient Rome. Her descriptions of the culture and traditions of that time are rich and vivid, from the elaborate dinners and celebrations, to the excitement of the Circus Maximus, to the terror of the impending threat of slave rebellion led by the mysterious Red Eagle. You almost feel as if you are right there in the midst of the action.
In a unique marketing twist, “Cleopatra’s Daughter” is being offered both as an adult fiction and as a young adult novel. Younger readers will easily follow the events of Selene and her brother’s lives, while adults will not feel the book is too childish. That is a stroke of writing genius, to be able to please both demographics.
Moran’s two previous novels, “Nefertiti” and “The Heretic Queen” (the story of the wife of Rameses The Great), along with this new work, have been centered in ancient Egypt, but her new project finds Moran in France. I, for one, can’t wait to see what she has planned for Madame Tussaud and Marie Antoinette.