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The Memoirs of Cleopatra by Margaret George: A Book Review

The Memoirs of Cleopatra
Author: Margaret George
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: 2010
Pages: 980
Source: Personal collection
Synopsis: Bestselling novelist Margaret George brings to life the glittering kingdom of Cleopatra, Queen of the Nile, in this lush, sweeping, and richly detailed saga.

     Told in Cleopatra's own voice, The Memoirs of Cleopatra is a mesmerizing tale of ambition, passion, and betrayal in the ancient Egyptian world, which begins when the twenty-year-old queen seeks out the most powerful man in the world, Julius Caesar, and does not end until, having survived the assassination of Caesar and the defeat of the second man she loves, Marc Antony, she plots her own death rather than be paraded in triumph through the streets of Rome.

     Most of all, in its richness and authenticity, it is an irresistible story that reveals why Margaret George's work has been widely acclaimed as "the best kind of historical novel, one the reader can't wait to get lost in." (San Francisco Chronicle).

     My Review: The Memoirs of Cleopatra tells the story of Cleopatra VII from her early childhood to her death. Cleopatra was the favorite daughter of Ptolemy XII. When her father had to flee to go to Rome, Cleopatra’s older sisters decided to take the throne for themselves. Cleopatra learned from her older sisters that she could be a strong and capable ruler herself. When Cleopatra becomes queen, she learns that she can not rest easy on the throne. Her husband and brother Ptolemy XIII and her sister, Arsinoe, plot a coup against her. In order to be restored to her rightful position as queen, Cleopatra must ally herself with the Roman general, Caesar.

   In this novel, Cleopatra tells her side of the story. Cleopatra denounces the myths and charges that are brought up against her by her enemies. Cleopatra is more personable and is very sympathetic. As she reflects on her life, she wonders which course of actions, she might have taken to prevent her fate. However, she concludes that it was destiny. Cleopatra is portrayed as an ambitious and head-strong woman. She can also be very manipulative. Through her faults, it is obvious that she loved Egypt the most. Every action she does has been for what she considers the good of Egypt.

    Overall, The Memoirs of Cleopatra is full of courtly and political intrigue, betrayal, romance, and drama. At the heart of it all is a woman who fought to make her dreams of a glorious Egypt to come true, only to lose all she has ever loved. Besides Cleopatra, I thought the characters were all very fleshed out. Caesar is calculating and prudent. Antony is pleasure-loving and weak-willed. He is easily manipulated by all around him. Octavian is cold, shrewd, and power hungry.  This novel has the makings of a Shakespearean tragedy. Even though we all knew how it ended, I could feel Cleopatra’s looming doom by the poor choices that she makes, and wished that her outcome would have changed at the Battle of Actium. Nevertheless, The Memoirs of Cleopatra will be sure to linger with you long after you have read the final page. While this book is long, it never seemed long for me. This was one of the few books that I didn’t want to end! Margaret George has a talent for making Ancient Egypt come alive. The Memoirs of Cleopatra is one of the rare novels that must never be missed! After reading this novel, you can see why she is known as queen of historical fiction. I have read many books on Cleopatra, and so far this is the best one. I look forward to reading more books from her in the future.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Here is the official book trailer for Margaret George's novel, The Memoirs of Cleopatra:


 

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