Historical Fiction Book Review – Cleopatra’s Daughter

I go through these phases where I read everything I can on a specific topic or region of the world.

One dark Summer, I read every novel and non-fiction memoir I could find on the Armenian genocide.

Another, I read every gothic horror novel I could get my hands on.

Last Summer, it was death, mystery, and religion in the British countryside.

Way back in 2015, I was spending a WHOOOOLE lot of time mentally in ancient Egypt. It didn’t matter what dynasty, anything Egyptian got devoured by me.

Recently, I’ve been revisiting my Egyptian phase and re-read Michelle Moran’s Cleopatra’s Daughter.

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Here’s the review I wrote on Goodreads the first time around:

Michelle Moran does a remarkable job of recreating ancient Rome after the fall of Egypt, building the intimate relationships that brought the children of Marc Antony and Cleopatra to life.

Selene’s voice is eloquent and pure, full of extremes and her capacity to control her own destiny. With her as the narrator, the story read like a historical peek at the bloody and cruel reign of Augustus through young eyes that understood the world to be anything but good and pure. 

This book struck a deep chord for me as I have always been far more interested in the children of Cleopatra than the great pharaoh herself. I loved getting to know Selene and Alexander, crushed by their defeats and the losses.

It has been a long time since I closed a book after finishing it, sad that I would no longer be able to know more about the people inside.

A masterful recollection from a rare perspective. I recommend it for any lover of ancient historical fiction, especially those that key in on the lives of women. 

This novel still resonates deeply with me, and reading it for the second time was pure joy. In the last four years, characters for my own novels have evolved as a result of learning the history beyond the fiction of this story. One of the most significant characters in my lengthy Sibylline project—Chekka—is based on Mauritanian lineage discovered in the process of curling up in bed with a good book.

I’m not entirely sure where I would be without novels such as this to inspire me to dig deeper into the past, culture, and concepts. Although Moran hasn’t published anything since 2016, I hope she’s got something new in the works as it was rumored that she would be returning to her storytelling roots in Egypt.

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