Memoirs of Cleopatra – Book Review

Memoirs of CleopatraMargaret George’s “Memoirs of Cleopatra” begins with the young princess Cleopatra‘s memory of General Pompey coming to Egypt and her role in charming him with her wit and personality in order to help her father keep his kingdom and of course tells her story up through her infamous death.

I feel like I did not give this book the attention it needed. Due to my large stack of TBR books (all still sitting in the bathroom, waiting for the bookshelves to go back, by the way), I just didn’t have patience for a 950 page book. I see that I had read 250 pages, and then be annoyed that it barely seemed like I had gotten anywhere.

That being said, I don’t think that the book seemed as if it were long just for the sake of being long, I don’t think that there was much in the story that was superfluous. George is a great author, and I felt that I could experience what the characters were experiencing. What I didn’t expect was the fact that I did not feel that I became Cleopatra’s partisan. I understood her motivations and didn’t think them ‘bad’ or ‘wrong,’ but I also understood the motivations of Octavian and others who were her ‘enemies’. Sure, I tended to think that Octavian was more ‘bad’ than Cleopatra, but I did not feel that he was really being vilified. Surely that is a gift, to write relatively sympathetically an historical character and yet not demonize her opponents. I really just got the impression that, for the most part, people were acting as they felt they needed to do for the good of their countries and their families.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the book for me, though, was the afterward, explaining what in the book was historical and what was not. I wish more historical fiction did this. I found it fascinating how much of her story that most of us know as written by renowned Roman poets and writers was written by men who were indeed her enemies.

I will give this book the highest praise I can give historical fiction: it made me want to go and read more about all of the characters involved, including perhaps from some primary sources.

Buy this book on Amazon: The Memoirs of Cleopatra: A Novel

5 comments to Memoirs of Cleopatra – Book Review

  • I’m so excited to be done with school so I can read, read, read! You’ll have to write me up a summer reading program.

  • That sounds so ridiculously fun to me. Second only to actually reading myself. I may have to make up some sort of interest and author inventory…

  • I think the only part of this book that I thought really dragged was the latter part of the section dealing with Mark Antony. But overall, a good book – I loved some of her descriptions of the city of Alexandria.

  • I’ve been really wanting to read this book too! Great review! I read Margaret George’s book Mary Queen of Scotland and the Isles and I absolutely loved it! With all the books on Elizabeth I it was a great book understanding her counterpart, Mary.

  • […] the narrow scope of George’s book surprised me. I’ve previously read her books on Cleopatra and Henry VIII, and they are sweeping epics, covering the majority of the subjects’ lives. […]