Cleopatra’s Daughter by Michelle Moran
(Summary taken from the inside book jacket) “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 vengeful rival, Octavian, sweep into Egypt. Their orphaned children–ten-year-old twins Selene and Alexander–are taken in chains to Rome. 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.”
I liked this book. It wasn’t my favorite book or anything, but it was entertaining. It was written fairly well. There were some words she used at certain points that didn’t make sense with the time period, and it was kind of confusing with English and a few Roman terms thrown in. I know we couldn’t read it if it were written all in Latin, but it was almost choppy with some terms thrown in here and there. The story was entertaining and it was fun to think about how these people really lived. Ms. Moran tried to stay true to these people, but you just never know. There were some of the Roman traditions that I was not too fond of, like the Columna Lactaria, a column where people just left their unwanted babies and strangers could stop and feed them if they chose to. I don’t know if this tradition is a true one, but I did not like it. I also didn’t really like the whole fertility celebration.
The character development was pretty good. I really liked Selene and Alexander, Octavia, Marcellus, and Julia. I did not like Pollio at all. I felt for Selene and Alexander. How sad to lose your family and kingdom, and everything you know, in one day. And then to be paraded around Rome. I didn’t love the title. Selene makes a big deal about how her name is spelled with a “K” (Kleopatra) and then the title has it spelled with a “C”???
This book has some language in it. It also has beatings and harsh treatment of slaves, with some dying. It also has gambling and it discusses “physical intimacy” in marriage and out of it, with prostitution included in the mix. Then there is the “Liberalia” celebration, which I did not like. Let’s just say I learned a new word. Yeah, they decorate floats of men’s private parts and parade them down the street. Not a great image to have in your head, right? I’m glad I’m not Roman.
Overall, I liked the book. It’s good for a quick and entertaining read. I like the history involved, and knowing that most of the people were real. And, there is a glossary at the end of the book. I wish I would have known that as I was reading.
Rating: R (language, deaths, beatings of slaves, killing of a newborn baby, “physical intimacy” and prostitution)
Recommendation: High School Senior and up. This is NOT a good young adult book. It may be too much for some seniors.