Monday, November 4, 2013

The Memoirs of Cleopatra: A Novel

1997, possibly first edition, from St. Martin's Press
Margaret George
The Memoirs of Cleopatra: A Novel
Original price $27.95, purchase price unknown
Hardcover with stains and broken spine

While there were times I thought this book might deserve a B, there were things that bothered me consistently throughout.  One is that George often forgot how much time had passed, so, for instance, it was unclear if Cleopatra was eighteen or twenty-one when she met Caesar.  And when the queen is involved with Caesar, and later with Marc Antony, she sounds like Pat Benatar, as she compares lovemaking to war-making.  (It may've been true to her character though.)  Thirdly, George couldn't seem to make up her mind whether Cleopatra was regal or almost democratic, or a combination of both, with her closest friendships with her servants and employees, to the point that her childhood-chum/physician Olympos can call her "dearest."  (And, no, it didn't seem to fit his character.)

Still, the book for the most part held my interest, which is saying something when it's almost one thousand pages long.  Unlike Michael Grant's nonfiction approach, there was no shortage of gossip here.  I think I'd most like to read a book on a topic that's just touched on there and here, the propaganda against Cleopatra.  Octavian was not the military leader that either Caesar or Antony was, but the man sure won the battle of images and legends.  Well, in his time.  In the long run, Queen Cleo obviously beat out "Augustus."

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