Ticklish Owl's Reviews > Cleopatra's Daughter

Cleopatra's Daughter by Michelle Moran
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May 22, 12

bookshelves: africa, historical-fiction, europe
Read from February 06 to 07, 2012

I don't usually feel the need for half stars, but this book really deserves 2 1/2 stars. I really liked some parts, but others fell far short of the mark.

This book is historical fiction, but it often didn't feel historical. It read like a middle-grade history essay crossed with a reality TV series; blatant fact dropping held together with drama. The endnotes explain the author's choices, but much of the story still felt out of place. For example:
"And where do you think we would go?" she (Cleopatra) demanded. "India? China?"

I may be mistaken, but I don't think India was called India at that time. I realize the author is trying to make it easier for those not familiar with ancient geography to visualize, but it just detracts from the factual history. Why not include a map instead?

If you liked this book, you might also enjoy:
The World of Juba II and Kleopatra Selene (academic, not a novel)
Lily of the Nile
Cleopatra's Moon
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message 1: by Valerie (new)

Valerie S Do you know of any other examples? After all, English did not even exist as a language when this book takes place, so even though India may have been called Bharat, the author is speaking English to inform you of something in a language that you understand. So even if Cleopatra called India Bharat, the name that it was called by in 30 BC, her entire sentence would have been in Greek (which she and her family were known to primarily have spoken), ancient Egyptian, Latin, Punic, or any of the seven languages she was able to speak. The English translation of this sentence would be "And where do you think we would go?" she (Cleopatra) demanded. "India? China?"
This modern English translation of a ancient, potentially dead, non-English sentence, would include the word India because that is the modern English translation of the word used for India in 30 BC. Are there any other major examples? If not please check your facts because otherwise it is you blatantly dropping facts. The pot calling the kettle black, much?


Ticklish Owl I understand the point you are making, as it follows the reasoning in the author's commentary. Unfortunately, I didn't feel like I was in ancient Egypt while reading Cleopatra's Daughter.

For me, a sense of time and place are integral aspects of a historical novel. I'm sure there are those who prefer dramatic characters or romance. That's the wonderful thing about stories–we read the same words, but they affect each of us differently.

Valerie wrote:"Do you know of any other examples?"

I am sorry, I don't have any other examples to hand. I read this novel 8 months ago and didn't save the notes I used to write the review.

Valerie wrote: "This modern English translation of a ancient, potentially dead, non-English sentence, would include the word India because that is the modern English translation of the word used for India in 30 BC."

Quite true, and well said. The trouble is, that same modern translation kept me from historical immersion. Different place names may have helped in that regard. I would say the same about a novel set in 1200 CE Byzantium that referred to Constantinople as Istanbul.

If Cleopatra was speaking Koine Greek, she may well have said Indía to refer to the subcontinent. Geographically speaking, China did not exist in 30 BCE. Cleopatra may have used Sinae or Seres to refer to the Western Han Empire, although usage may not have been commonplace until 20 CE.

Valerie wrote: "Are there any other major examples? If not please check your facts because otherwise it is you blatantly dropping facts. The pot calling the kettle black, much?"

I would have to read the book again to provide further examples. Which facts you would like me to check? I'd be happy to revise any errors in my review.


An Odd1 This plot more about how evil Rome was than nine year old girl with talent to be architect, so thanks for suggesting other titles.


message 4: by Ticklish Owl (last edited Oct 22, 2013 02:34PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Ticklish Owl AnUnder wrote: "This plot more about how evil Rome was than nine year old girl with talent to be architect, so thanks for suggesting other titles."

Another book you might enjoy, Cleopatra's Moon. I haven't read it yet, but reviews are promising.


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