July 16, 2012

Cleopatra VII: Daughter of the Nile

CLEOPATRA VII: DAUGHTER OF THE NILE (Royal Diaries) by Kristiana Gregory; Narrated by Josephine Bailey (Tantor Media, 2006)
GENRE: History - Fiction / Audiobook

REVIEW: In this well-researched fictional account of Cleopatra's early life, Kristina Gregory presents a portrait of the young princess that renders her both incredibly impressive and warmly human. The "diary" begins when Cleopatra is twelve years old. Having survived an assassination attempt, Cleopatra's father, Ptolemy XII, flees Egypt for Rome where he intends to garner the money and support of Julius Caesar and the Roman Senate. Fearing for her life (with good reason) Cleopatra joins him. The diary chronicles her Cleopatra's time in Rome and her well-executed efforts to make herself worthy of being Queen. Though already quite self-aware, Cleopatra grows in wisdom through dedicated effort so that by the time she reaches her fourteenth year, one can easily see the formidable Queen she would become. While the book itself is wonderful, Josephine Bailey's narration truly made the audio version stand out. Fluid and compelling, her voice brought Gregory's prose, and Cleopatra, to life.

OPINION: The first in the Royal Diaries series, Cleopatra VII is a surprising balance of entertainment and scholarship. Though little is actually known about Cleopatra's early life, Gregory uses what primary sources are available to piece together a viable picture of the Queen as a girl. The diary format, as always, lends immediacy to the story while providing the author with plenty of opportunity to slip in exposition and historical detail. Educational and compelling, it's a great addition to a library's collection.

IDEAS: Cleopatra remains a fascinating figure, while ancient Egypt is enjoying a surge in popularity thanks to films like The Mummy and books like The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan and Theodosia and the Eye of Horus by R.L. LaFevers. A great suggestion for fans of either series, Cleopatra VII is also a good read for tweens interested in ancient Egypt, Rome or the great Queen herself.

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