Cleopatra's Daughter: Book summary and reviews of Cleopatra's Daughter by Michelle Moran

Cleopatra's Daughter

By Michelle Moran

Cleopatra's Daughter
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  • Published in USA  Sep 2009,
    448 pages.

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Book Summary

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 revengeful rival, Octavian, sweep into Egypt. Their three orphaned children are taken in chains to Rome; only two– the ten-year-old twins Selene and Alexander – survive the journey. 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.

The fateful tale of Selene and Alexander is brought brilliantly to life in Cleopatra's Daughter. Recounted in Selene's youthful and engaging voice, it introduces a compelling cast of historical characters: Octavia, the emperor Octavian's kind and compassionate sister, abandoned by Marc Antony for Cleopatra; Livia, Octavian's bitter and jealous wife; Marcellus, Octavian's handsome, flirtatious nephew and heir apparent; Tiberius, Livia's sardonic son and Marcellus's great rival for power; and Juba, Octavian's watchful aide, whose honored position at court has far-reaching effects on the lives of the young Egyptian royals.

Selene's narrative is animated by the concerns of a young girl in any time and place–the possibility of finding love, the pull of friendship and family, and the pursuit of her unique interests and talents. While coping with the loss of both her family and her ancestral kingdom, Selene must find a path around the dangers of a foreign land. Her accounts of life in Rome are filled with historical details that vividly capture both the glories and horrors of the times. She dines with the empire’s most illustrious poets and politicians, witnesses the creation of the Pantheon, and navigates the colorful, crowded marketplaces of the city where Roman-style justice is meted out with merciless authority.

Based on meticulous research, Cleopatra’s Daughter is a fascinating portrait of imperial Rome and of the people and events of this glorious and most tumultuous period in human history. Emerging from the shadows of the past, Selene, a young woman of irresistible charm and preternatural intelligence, will capture your heart.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Dramatic, engrossing, and beautifully written, this is essential reading, and Moran is definitely an author to watch." - Library Journal

"Readers may be frustrated that Selene is more observer than actor...but historical fiction enthusiasts will delight in this solid installment from a talented name in the genre." - Publishers Weekly

"For those who think that ancient history is dull, this is a great way to explore the world of the ancients and to connect through the lives of teenagers who, even though they lived thousands of years ago, have the same desires and interests of today's youth." - School Library Journal (Adult Books for High Schoolers)

"Michelle Moran has already made Ancient Egypt her own fictional domain. With this compelling novel of the legendary Cleopatra's daughter, she now stakes a claim to Ancient Rome, too." - Sharon K. Penman, New York Times bestselling author of Devil's Brood

"Cleopatra's Daughter is historical fiction at its finest. With her exquisite attention to detail and her beautifully crafted characters, Michelle Moran does not just visit the past – she resurrects it." - Deanna Raybourn, bestselling author of the Lady Julia Grey series

"No one captures the immediacy and rich detail of the ancient world quite like Michelle Moran." - bestselling author Robin Maxwell

"From the tragic fall of Cleopatra's Alexandria to the treacherous hills of imperial Rome, Michelle Moran spins a captivating tale of the daughter of Egypt's most famous queen, a princess whose courageous determination to survive is as exciting and dramatic as the time in which she lived." - C. W. Gortner, author of The Last Queen

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Reader Reviews

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Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Betsy R. (Gig Harbor, WA)
Cleopatra's Daughter
If you selected this book because you love reading about ancient Egypt, you might be a little disappointed because it is primarily about ancient Rome during the time of Octavian Caesar. The story is so engaging, however, that you will soon not be able to put it down. All of the details of life in ancient Rome are woven into a fascinating story told from the point of view of Selene, Cleopatra's daughter. As a high school librarian, I will recommend this book to my students who love Phillipa Gregory and other historical novelists.

Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Jodie A. (Corpus Christi, TX)
Cleopatra's Daughter
I loved this book! It was entertaining and educational. I really enjoyed her explanations of the Roman words and customs. The characters were very interesting. I did not want to put it down!

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Alice W. (Sacramento, CA)
Cleopatra's Daughter
Michele Moran brings us a wonderfully colorful picture of Rome through Cleopatra's daughter's eyes. Serena and her twin brother were taken by Octavian from Egypt to the Roman Empire shortly after their mother Cleopatra's suicide. His motives were clearly not in the children's best interest. The children now have no living parents and are confronted with adapting to a strange country that they perceive as far less genteel than their own. One of their biggest dilemmas was determining whom they could trust.

While all the descriptions from the mouth of Serena were fascinating, I found it difficult to imagine that a twelve year old girl could be so articulate. I tossed that reading difficulty aside and let myself enjoy her story. It was clear that no one could really know the facts of her life, however Michelle brought enough substance to the pages I am convinced that the young girl was very bright and clever.

The cast of characters was a bit overwhelming and I found myself referring often to the list of names and their relationships to one another. Believe me this is complicated.

This book was not quite up to Nefertiti, but with Nefertiti there was more documented fact for Moran to work with.

The best part of the book may be the Afterward where we are given an update on the rest of Selene's life....this bit of information was no doubt well documented and included a happy ending to her troubled younger years.

Alice

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Joyce W. (Rochester, MN)
A Good Love Story
Michelle Moran tells a good story even though it slowed down for awhile. I was going to give it a 3 star, but the last 50 pages kept your interest. The historical research was done well but it definitely fits into the "entertainment" category. It is not Book Club material. Joyce

Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Sheila D. (Brainerd, MN)
One of the must reads yet this year!
Michelle Moran has written a book that has left me with that feeling I have when I know I have read something wonderful. Well written… I entered at the point that Cleopatra and Marc Anthony are taking their own lives in order to resist captivity and learn of their three children who are left in the enemies hands. Three children, I am ashamed to say, that I did not know existed until this book.

And from that point on I am feasting on pages filled with the adventures of Alexander and Selene… historical fiction at a very fine level. I am in awe of the twins voices… as they speak I had to remind myself again and again of their age. The voices to me seamed older but I forget how much faster children grew up then. While they were 11, they spoke as though they were 15 or 16…

Vivid characters – I appreciated the list of who they were in the front of the book and I used that a lot as I became used to so any new names coming in at once, Octavian (Emperor and keeper of the children once he conquered their home), Octavia, his sister – a gentle soul who I grew to like. And so many more from the handsome Marcellus, to the puzzling Julia who drove me nuts, then I felt bad for her, then I was mad again… and oh – you have to love the characters that make you FEEL.

I adored this book. This is the first of Michelle’s work that I have read and I am ready for more. A fantastic read that I highly recommend to history lovers and historical fiction loves alike.

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Irene M. (Ashland, OR)
Ancient Era
Cleopatra's Daughter was an enjoyable book. Selene's story was new to me and most interesting. As she adjusts to a new life in Rome, the reader is drawn into the lives of the elite, the common man and the many slaves who live, or just exist, in this historical city. This would be an excellent book for a young adult who is interested in history and literature.

...11 more reader reviews

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Author Information

Michelle Moran Author Biography

Michelle Moran was born in the San Fernando Valley, CA. She took an interest in writing from an early age, purchasing Writer's Market and submitting her stories and novellas to publishers from the time she was twelve. When she was accepted into Pomona College she took as many classes as possible in British Literature, particularly Milton, Chaucer, and the Bard. Not surprisingly, she majored in English while she was there. Following a summer in Israel where she worked as a volunteer archaeologist, she earned an MA from the Claremont Graduate University.

Michelle has traveled around the world, from Zimbabwe to India, and her experiences at archaeological sites were what inspired her to write historical fiction. She is the international bestselling author of Nefertiti, The Heretic Queen, ...

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Michelle Moran: mo-RAN

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