Friday, October 19, 2012
Review: Cleopatra's Moon
By Vicky Alvear Shecter, read by Kirsten Potter
Published 2011 by Oasis Audio
Cleopatra Selene is the only daughter of Queen Cleopatra and General Marcus Antonius. She is beloved by the people of Egypt and by her family. She desires nothing more than to be as wonderful and adored a queen as her mother. But everything changes for Cleopatra Selene when the Roman ruler Octavianus launches a war, throwing her world into turmoil. Can Cleopatra Selene recover the destiny she has always believed is hers?
I downloaded this audiobook on a whim, after seeing it offered as a free download from Sync this summer. I'm a big fan of historical fiction and I don't know all that much about ancient history (in fact, I didn't even really know that Cleopatra had a daughter) so I figured I'd give this book a shot. I think this was a really strong audiobook - the narrator had a lovely voice and it worked perfectly for the character. I did find the interstitial music a bit unnecessary, but at least it was nice to listen to. As for the book itself, I enjoyed it. Shecter paints a believable portrait of both Egyptian and Roman culture of the time. Even though I didn't know Cleopatra Selene existed prior to reading this book, I found she had a strong narrative voice and a very interesting story to tell. Since I've already admitted my historical ignorance about the subject, I thought it seemed accurate. I don't know for sure, but Selene was a decent heroine to read about and seemed realistic. I did read through some of the reviews on Goodreads, which seem to be pretty black or white. A few complain about the portrayal of Romans as "too realistic" - as in this book doesn't really shy away from discussion of sexuality, something that was more fluid to the Romans and also very much a part of everyday life. I think it's healthy for young adult novels to discuss sexuality, especially when it is relevant to depicting a time or place as accurately as possible. A few others were turned off by the romance in the story, but I assume it's at least partially based in history. Additionally, it was a lovely relationship, so shouldn't we be happy about that? For me, the strongest aspect of this book was the truly evocative sense of time and place created by Shecter. This was a really engaging book to listen to, and I'm very glad I downloaded it. I'd recommend this to fans of other lush historical fictions, such as those by Anna Godbersen or those by Carolyn Meyer.