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The Memoirs of Cleopatra

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Bestselling novelist Margaret George brings to life the glittering kingdom of Cleopatra, Queen of the Nile, in this lush, sweeping, and richly detailed saga. Told in Cleopatra's own voice, this is a mesmerizing tale of ambition, passion, and betrayal, which begins when the twenty-year-old queen seeks out the most powerful man in the world, Julius Caesar, and does not end u Bestselling novelist Margaret George brings to life the glittering kingdom of Cleopatra, Queen of the Nile, in this lush, sweeping, and richly detailed saga. Told in Cleopatra's own voice, this is a mesmerizing tale of ambition, passion, and betrayal, which begins when the twenty-year-old queen seeks out the most powerful man in the world, Julius Caesar, and does not end until, having survived the assassination of Caesar and the defeat of the second man she loves, Marc Antony, she plots her own death rather than be paraded in triumph through the streets of Rome. Most of all, in its richness and authenticity, it is an irresistible story that reveals why Margaret George's work has been widely acclaimed as "the best kind of historical novel, one the reader can't wait to get lost in."


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Bestselling novelist Margaret George brings to life the glittering kingdom of Cleopatra, Queen of the Nile, in this lush, sweeping, and richly detailed saga. Told in Cleopatra's own voice, this is a mesmerizing tale of ambition, passion, and betrayal, which begins when the twenty-year-old queen seeks out the most powerful man in the world, Julius Caesar, and does not end u Bestselling novelist Margaret George brings to life the glittering kingdom of Cleopatra, Queen of the Nile, in this lush, sweeping, and richly detailed saga. Told in Cleopatra's own voice, this is a mesmerizing tale of ambition, passion, and betrayal, which begins when the twenty-year-old queen seeks out the most powerful man in the world, Julius Caesar, and does not end until, having survived the assassination of Caesar and the defeat of the second man she loves, Marc Antony, she plots her own death rather than be paraded in triumph through the streets of Rome. Most of all, in its richness and authenticity, it is an irresistible story that reveals why Margaret George's work has been widely acclaimed as "the best kind of historical novel, one the reader can't wait to get lost in."

30 review for The Memoirs of Cleopatra

  1. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    Argh....this book needed a good editor. As with all of George's books, I get about half way in and begin to lose interest. While the historical detail is wonderful, it took the author 4 pages to say that Cleopatra took a swim. Started the book in Egypt in December and had to put it down for a while. Argh....this book needed a good editor. As with all of George's books, I get about half way in and begin to lose interest. While the historical detail is wonderful, it took the author 4 pages to say that Cleopatra took a swim. Started the book in Egypt in December and had to put it down for a while.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kimberly

    Wow, I can't believe this book is over...I feel a sense of accomplishment for having finished it (it's really, really long) and a sense of loss that it's over. The writing is so beautiful and real that it isn't a stretch at all to imagine that Cleopatra wrote it herself. There are so many incredible sentences in this book I could write page after page of quotes. Some of my favorites: "Always carry a limited gold service with you, was my motto." and "When fate offers you no choice you must appear Wow, I can't believe this book is over...I feel a sense of accomplishment for having finished it (it's really, really long) and a sense of loss that it's over. The writing is so beautiful and real that it isn't a stretch at all to imagine that Cleopatra wrote it herself. There are so many incredible sentences in this book I could write page after page of quotes. Some of my favorites: "Always carry a limited gold service with you, was my motto." and "When fate offers you no choice you must appear to relish it." and "Goddesses do not grow old." Those are just quick samples of some sentences that made me smile. My only small complaint about this book would be the length, but, after thinking about it, this book would not have felt complete or like a true memoir if it was any shorter. By spending so much time with Cleopatra you really feel like you know her by the conclusion. And, you can't help but feel a dramatic sense of loss by the end even though you know it's coming. Knowing doesn't make her fate any less lamentable. 5 stars.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Gary

    Of all works of fiction, this book certainly gives the most indepth account of the fascinating and tragic Queen of Egypt. The author has clearly done extensive research and aquits this research well, in an entertaining and exteremly informative way. Not only does she have an impressive array of books and documents that she studied before embarking on this work, but she travelled to Egypt, Rome, Israel and Jordan, and spent four years working on this epic. The author explains that her sympathy is wi Of all works of fiction, this book certainly gives the most indepth account of the fascinating and tragic Queen of Egypt. The author has clearly done extensive research and aquits this research well, in an entertaining and exteremly informative way. Not only does she have an impressive array of books and documents that she studied before embarking on this work, but she travelled to Egypt, Rome, Israel and Jordan, and spent four years working on this epic. The author explains that her sympathy is with Cleopatra, and that much of the documentation of her story, was compiled at the behest of her arch-foe Octavian, and that some of her enemies included writers and poets such as Cicero, Vergil, Horace, which assured that her version of events would be silenced and the accounts would be skewed against her. The author explains that the popular modern idea that Cleopatra was unattractive is incorrect, and that the way that coins and statues were done in those days would have made her look less attractive certainly. The author gives a credible explanation of the death of her second brother Ptolemy, from comsumption,and the truth is we do not know how he died, and there is no conclusive evidence that she did indeed have him murdered. The book is not only a window into the lives of Cleopatra, Julius Ceasar, Mark Antony and Octavian, but also a portrait of the world of the time, taking us from Egypt to Nubia, Rome, Syria, Anatolia Judea, Armenia and Pathia. George fills in with an amazing cast of Cleoptra's retinue, such as her chamberlain,the eunuch Mardian, her physician Olympos, and her brilliant Hebrew finance minister, Epaphroditus. The book begins with a fictional account of the rescue of the three year old Cleopatra from a sea accident in which her mother is drowned, Cleopatra's growing up in the Egyptian royal court of Alexandria, the schemes of her sisters Cleopatra and Berenice, the death of her father, the arrival of Julius Ceasar and the incident of her being smuggled to him in a rug, the battles with her siblings, the first Ptolemy and Arsinoe, her romances with Julius Ceasar and then Antony ,and the tragic and ill-fated defeat of Cleopatra and Antony, by the ruthless and scheming Octavian, which could so easily have gone the other way. One finds oneselves biting ones nails at the end of the book, dealing with Cleopatra's captivity and her suicide. A compelling novel, which I read in a week. Filled with brilliant dialogue and description.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    This book was a tradition for me to read each summer. I relished school getting out and lounging in the pool, day by day, and reading through these pages. It took the whole summer to read, too, because this book is a monster. After graduating college, I stopped reading this book every summer. But I still pick it up time to time and read my favorite passages. If you have any interest at all in Queen Cleopatra, you will love this book. However, if you're like me, after reading this book any other bo This book was a tradition for me to read each summer. I relished school getting out and lounging in the pool, day by day, and reading through these pages. It took the whole summer to read, too, because this book is a monster. After graduating college, I stopped reading this book every summer. But I still pick it up time to time and read my favorite passages. If you have any interest at all in Queen Cleopatra, you will love this book. However, if you're like me, after reading this book any other book about her will be ruined for you. Nothing really can compare with Margaret George's treatment of the subject - her research was exhaustive, and this certainly comes through with the level of detail in the text. Not only that, George's writing style is exactly what you would imagine Cleopatra to feel, sound and be like. George really brings Cleopatra to life through the writing. By the time you get to the end and Cleopatra is dictating her final scroll, you've undergone this amazing journey with her through her life and you don't want it to end. This book is definitely not to be missed... don't let the size of it intimidate you - you won't be disappointed!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Marquise

    3.5 stars, but I'm going to round it up to 4 because the enjoyment I got out of it outweighed the flaws. The positives, to me, were: The focus: It's a Cleopatra novel that is actually about Cleopatra. My major contention with other novels about the last Pharaoh is that they tend to emphasise too much on her liaisons with Caesar and Antony to the detriment of herself as a ruler. Cleopatra had a life of her own independent of these Roman men who, while certainly very important in her life, weren't t 3.5 stars, but I'm going to round it up to 4 because the enjoyment I got out of it outweighed the flaws. The positives, to me, were: The focus: It's a Cleopatra novel that is actually about Cleopatra. My major contention with other novels about the last Pharaoh is that they tend to emphasise too much on her liaisons with Caesar and Antony to the detriment of herself as a ruler. Cleopatra had a life of her own independent of these Roman men who, while certainly very important in her life, weren't the end all be all of her story. Another point, that's not a flaw, is that her story is placed within the larger narrative of the fall of the Republic, in which she had a role because of Antony's involvement in warring with Octavian, which is also just a part of her story and not all. In this novel, Cleopatra is seen from childhood, long before anything Roman rolled into her Egyptian court life. She's seen as a child princess in a shaky position, seen struggling through the palace coups by her siblings, seen with Caesar and without, seen as a mother, as a ruler, as a big sister to young Ptolemy, etc. There's a lot of her later romance and marriage to Antony, too, and thankfully by then we've seen enough of her other facets already by the time he's in her life. The first person narration also helps in making it her tale, despite the pitfalls of using this style. Portrayal of the main character: The common portrayal of the scheming temptress who lured powerful Romans into her den of Eastern sensuality and perdition is Augustan propaganda. That is, it's Octavian's version of Cleopatra, and he had motives for blackening her name despite her defeat at his hands. Unfortunately, that's the one that's persisted the most, even McCullough (the author of the best series on the Roman Republic, in my opinion) has resorted to this, and it's also seen in some measure even in famous Hollywood films that supposedly "romanticise" Cleopatra as a tragic figure, but that in reality do her a disservice with their weird notion of "positive" portrayal. The Cleopatra in George's novel is nothing like this, and curiously, that's one complaint I've seen thrown at this novel. Maybe people are too used to the Scheming Cleo image? Because I've not seen that the Cleopatra in this novel isn't scheming or calculating or manipulative even; she's all that. It's just that it's devoid of the lurid element that'd make it stand out as her main trait. She also makes mistakes, grave ones, but she's not framed as a blundering idiot for that. As for the negatives, I'd say they were: Editing, editing, editing: The book would've been greatly serviced by a more attentive editor. It reads as if the only editing done was by the author herself, who doesn't seem to have yet mastered self-editing at the time she wrote the novel. I won't say anything about the pace, because that's subjective: some readers like (or at least don't have trouble with) slow and ponderous storytelling, other readers can't stand it and abandon the book, and yet other readers can't differentiate between slow pace and deficient editing. I think the slow pace did fit the scope of the story, as it spans decades, and the storytelling style, as it's first person and uses the "personal memoir" technique, having Cleopatra write her own story in scrolls, and this style does lend itself to rambling, to overdescription, to detours, to digressions, etc. It's par for the course with first person narration. And it's those detours that needed editing the most; the pace itself is fine, and it's not there throughout, as some "scrolls" narrate at a quicker pace. Historical mistakes: As usual, this is a point that's going to call History aficionados more. I don't throw a book at the wall for a minor mistake, nobody can know everything, and Margaret George does seem to have done her homework researching the period, to judge by her reasonings in the Author's Note by the end. Nonetheless, she let slip in a few. For example, she calls Gaius Octavius Thurinus by the name of Octavian one year before his posthumous adoption by Caesar that turned him into Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus, a.k.a. Octavian. Not that these kinds of blunders detract from the story necessarily. But it does bother me... 'Splainin': Some authors can't seem to resist the temptation to talk down to the readership and explain things to them that they think won't be understood or obvious to the readers without authorial intervention. And George's is the most annoying sort: she translates stuff that is so glaringly obvious that it's insulting she'd assume the reader needs an English equivalent right afterwards. And I'm not speaking of obscure words or phrases in Latin or Egyptian, in which case it'd be at least understandable, but of things like: - When she has Mark Antony introduce himself, she "translates" his name side by side in the same sentence, in the vein of "I'm Marcus Antonius. Mark Antony." - Same when making poet Virgil introduce himself at a party to Cleopatra. "Publius Vergilius Maro. Vergil." - And again when his other fellow poet (and fellow Augustan lickspittle) Horace introduces himself to her: "Quintus Horatius Flaccus. I am called Horace." Oh, sure. I'm Marie-Hélène, and my name is sooo exotic that you'd never guess it's Mary-Ellen in English! You see what I mean. It's an unnatural way of speaking, and it's not like nobody would know, since their Latin names aren't so outlandishly different that the anglicised version obfuscates the originals. And it's not only names that George overexplains, in some parts she can't resist telling about a historical bit of data instead of just weaving it into the narrative. So, after all the above, I'm still giving this rating? Yes. I did enjoy the novel, and it was a welcome change from the usual portrayals of Cleopatra I've read to date. I still think Margaret George was a tad too generous with Mark Antony's character, because he doesn't emerge as so noble from the historical records as he does in this novel, even after lifting the veil of propaganda and political slander.

  6. 5 out of 5

    ☘Misericordia☘ ⚡ϟ⚡⛈⚡☁ ❇️❤❣

    Q: What is one person's diversion may be another's supreme test. (c) Frankly, I've always disliked Cleopatra. Not actively disliked but I've always been wary of all the history hype that surrounds all of her time. Now, I think I just might start seeing her with different mind. This one made me want to reread Spartacus. More review to follow. Q: I loved him so, even his past was precious to me. I found myself kissing each mark, thinking, I would have had it never happen, I would wish it away, taking Q: What is one person's diversion may be another's supreme test. (c) Frankly, I've always disliked Cleopatra. Not actively disliked but I've always been wary of all the history hype that surrounds all of her time. Now, I think I just might start seeing her with different mind. This one made me want to reread Spartacus. More review to follow. Q: I loved him so, even his past was precious to me. I found myself kissing each mark, thinking, I would have had it never happen, I would wish it away, taking him further and further back to a time when he had known no disappointments, no battles, no wounds, as I erased each one. To make him again like Caesarion. Yet if we take the past away from those we love - even to protect them - do we not steal their very selves? (c) Q: So I learned two things that night, and the next day, from him: the perfection of a moment, and the fleeting nature of it. (c) Q: Things do not happen, we must make them happen (c)

  7. 5 out of 5

    Pam

    This is my car book...what is a car book? The book I keep in my car for those occasions such as appointments, waiting or dining out alone, when I want a book to read. I have owned this book since November of 2006 and I am only, maybe, halfway through it...but I have loved savoring it in these short bursts. I have often thought of pulling it out of the car and reading it full stop, but then I think it would spoil the fun. I love this book! First career was as an archaeologist, so I LOVE all the ti This is my car book...what is a car book? The book I keep in my car for those occasions such as appointments, waiting or dining out alone, when I want a book to read. I have owned this book since November of 2006 and I am only, maybe, halfway through it...but I have loved savoring it in these short bursts. I have often thought of pulling it out of the car and reading it full stop, but then I think it would spoil the fun. I love this book! First career was as an archaeologist, so I LOVE all the tiny details that are in this book. It makes for a fuller mental image, in my opinion. I think I will actually mourn the end of this book when I do finish it, as I have been reading it for so long... I will probably buy another Margaret George book for my next car book!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    I wouldn’t have thought it possible to make the reign of Queen Cleopatra dull, but that’s exactly what Margaret George has achieved in The Memoirs of Cleopatra, a 900+ page hair-puller of a novel. Books like this make me wish I wasn’t a Finisher. I wish I had mastered the art of abandoning a novel halfway through, but, alas, once I start a book, I’m committed. Not that Memoirs is a total loss. I set out to read it wanting to learn more about Queen Cleopatra’s reign and I’ve certainly done that. T I wouldn’t have thought it possible to make the reign of Queen Cleopatra dull, but that’s exactly what Margaret George has achieved in The Memoirs of Cleopatra, a 900+ page hair-puller of a novel. Books like this make me wish I wasn’t a Finisher. I wish I had mastered the art of abandoning a novel halfway through, but, alas, once I start a book, I’m committed. Not that Memoirs is a total loss. I set out to read it wanting to learn more about Queen Cleopatra’s reign and I’ve certainly done that. The book is packed to the gills with information. Unfortunately, it’s also overloaded with dull, pedantic sentences, such as: “It was time for Saturnalia again, that holiday celebrating license. I understood it a little better now; it seemed to have something to do with Saturn … ” (pg. 320) so it’s hard to get real worked up about the experience. Each section reads like a 5th grader’s five-paragraph essay on some aspect of Cleopatra’s reign: “This happened. And then this happened. And this was how I felt about it.” There were a few chapters, in the first third of the book, where George insisted on saying (on what seemed like every other page) that loyalty was the trait Queen Cleopatra valued most, and betrayal the sin she detested most of all. (I understood you the first time, Margaret!) Even scenes such as Caesar’s death in the Senate failed to strike any kind of emotional chord. Indeed, George glosses over the moment completely, preferring to focus on a bizarre, fictitious scene in which Cleopatra spends the first few minutes after she’s heard of the incident comforting the messenger boy who told her about it. The relationship between Caesar and Cleopatra, as recounted by George, also wasn’t something I entirely understood. In George’s version, Caesar comes across as an abusive, manipulating jerk. For all I know, this may well have been the historical case. However, George’s Cleopatra fails to feel any kind of meaningful qualms about Caesar’s behavior. She behaves more like a lovelorn slave girl than the intelligent, savvy Queen we all know from history. And whenever Cleopatra and Caesar make love in the story, it’s the same. Damn. Scene. Every. Single. Time! George describes Caesar as being quick and inventive, on both the battlefield and in bed, but her prose are anything but. Skip this unforgivable read and pick up your old high school history book. It’s bound to be more fresh, invigorating, and inventive.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Suvi

    I tried my best, I really did. Made it to 300 pages out of 1063. I just can't waste any more of my time into a book that reads like a 15-year-old's school essay about Cleopatra VII. It was obviously well researched, and the first page promised a lot. I love verbose descriptions when they're done well, but George's bulky and awkward sentences made me want to tear my hair off and stick scarabs into my eyes. Quite heartbreaking actually, because I had such enormous expectations based on the GR rati I tried my best, I really did. Made it to 300 pages out of 1063. I just can't waste any more of my time into a book that reads like a 15-year-old's school essay about Cleopatra VII. It was obviously well researched, and the first page promised a lot. I love verbose descriptions when they're done well, but George's bulky and awkward sentences made me want to tear my hair off and stick scarabs into my eyes. Quite heartbreaking actually, because I had such enormous expectations based on the GR rating which basically promised a masterpiece. Instead I got paper doll characters, whom I had no contact whatsoever, and events described in such a way that I started glancing the page numbers after 50 pages. The whole thing was a major overkill, like the author was constantly banging me in the head with a shovel in order to make sure I understood everything. Seriously, the last days of the Egyptian kingdom, and the life of a woman with the utmost intelligence and knowledge in languages aren't deserving of this dull treatment!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Debbie Zapata

    I think my timing was off for trying to read this book. I thought it would be a wonderful escape from our real world; after all, what could be further away from all of this mess than Egypt in Cleopatra's time? But I noticed problems right away. Of course I kept picturing Cleopatra looking like Liz Taylor. I know they didn't look anything near similar, but when you've seen the movie a zillion times, your brain has images it can't erase with mere words. I read up to about page 300 when I realized I I think my timing was off for trying to read this book. I thought it would be a wonderful escape from our real world; after all, what could be further away from all of this mess than Egypt in Cleopatra's time? But I noticed problems right away. Of course I kept picturing Cleopatra looking like Liz Taylor. I know they didn't look anything near similar, but when you've seen the movie a zillion times, your brain has images it can't erase with mere words. I read up to about page 300 when I realized I was bored with the story. I know, I know, that sounds horrible, but I can't help it. I wasn't bothered by the length of the book, or by the slow pace and the many Michener-like details. That is to be expected when an author is covering such a subject. But somehow or other, during one of the many trips up or down (or both) along the Nile, I simply could not take any more. I'll give the book to my mother and might return to it someday. But meanwhile, I'm going to see if I can find my escape in Argentina. DNF at around page 300.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Tania

    We use what we have, and I have been blessed indeed by what fate has send my way. This was an amazing book about an extraordinary woman. I am intimidated by big books (this one was almost 1200 pages), as I am always scared that I'll get bored halfway through. This was definitely not a problem with The Memoirs of Cleopatra. I walked away feeling that I knew Cleopatra, Caesar, Marc Anthony, and that I had walked the streets of Alexandria and Rome. The author writes beautifully, and I really appreci We use what we have, and I have been blessed indeed by what fate has send my way. This was an amazing book about an extraordinary woman. I am intimidated by big books (this one was almost 1200 pages), as I am always scared that I'll get bored halfway through. This was definitely not a problem with The Memoirs of Cleopatra. I walked away feeling that I knew Cleopatra, Caesar, Marc Anthony, and that I had walked the streets of Alexandria and Rome. The author writes beautifully, and I really appreciated the fact that she made these historical figures so human, and also that she downplayed events, with no unnecessary melodrama. I can't remember when last I liked a protagonist so much. She was truly a phenomenal woman - she spoke eight languages, descended from the oldest royal house and ruled the richest country in the world. In this rendition of her life she is also kind, passionate and funny. I was touched by her love for two very different men, and how well Margaret George portrayed the love, balancing it with Cleopatra's ambition. Although I was thoroughly impressed with Caesar as a leader, I lost my heart to Marc Anthony. I highly recommend this to anyone interested in Cleopatra, but also to anyone who enjoys well-researched and written historical fiction. The Story: The mesmerizing story of Queen Cleopatra in her own words - from the young queen's earliest memories of her father's tenuous rule to her own reign over one of the most glittering kingdoms in the world - this is an enthralling saga of ambition and power. It is also a tale of passion that begins when the twenty-one-year-old Cleopatra, desperate to return from exile, seeks out the one man who can help her: Julius Caesar. And it does not end until, having survived the assassination of Caesar and the defeat of the second man she loves, Marc Antony, she plots her own death ...

  12. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    The April read for my Tome Topple challenge. "Madness" has been known to be defined as "picking up a thousand page novel within a week of finishing another one". No regrets here, though. 😂 Admittedly, you need to be a certain type of reader to pick up this book. It's over 1,000 pages, and if that's not enough, George's novel is pretty slow paced. Not that there isn't any action, but there's an incredible amount of detail, and you need to be fairly patient. Going into this, the only thing I knew abo The April read for my Tome Topple challenge. "Madness" has been known to be defined as "picking up a thousand page novel within a week of finishing another one". No regrets here, though. 😂 Admittedly, you need to be a certain type of reader to pick up this book. It's over 1,000 pages, and if that's not enough, George's novel is pretty slow paced. Not that there isn't any action, but there's an incredible amount of detail, and you need to be fairly patient. Going into this, the only thing I knew about Cleopatra VII Ptolemy (besides her name), was the suicide by snake venom and her involvement with Julius Caesar and Mark Antony. So safe to say, I was looking forward to finding out a lot more about her life. And boy, did I ever. This covers Cleopatra's life from around the age of 3 years old to her death, with a bit of an epilogue after her suicide. And it was all there - her children, her Roman lovers, her feud with Octavian/Augustus and her badass queenship. Honestly, this was a woman who got shit done. I'm not gonna lie though, this could have done with a bit (or maybe a lot) of editing. Some temple visits and some other interludes were a little bit unnecessary and kind of a bit boring? Which, I mean... it's a thousand pages already, let's try not to make this longer than it has to be. That was probably the only negative I really had (although it's kind of a biggish one?), but apart from that, I really enjoyed this one, and I'm looking forward to getting my hands on another Margaret George in the future. 😊

  13. 4 out of 5

    Joe Valdez

    The Year of Women--in which I'm devoting 2021 to reading female authors only--continues with The Memoirs of Cleopatra by Margaret George. Published in 1997, this is somehow the longest book that I’ve ever tried to read and only Isis can explain why. George writes with a very accessible and at times effervescent first person voice. There are no block paragraphs devoted to table settings or grain storage. Characters are introduced economically. I was able to tolerate the novel despite its lack of The Year of Women--in which I'm devoting 2021 to reading female authors only--continues with The Memoirs of Cleopatra by Margaret George. Published in 1997, this is somehow the longest book that I’ve ever tried to read and only Isis can explain why. George writes with a very accessible and at times effervescent first person voice. There are no block paragraphs devoted to table settings or grain storage. Characters are introduced economically. I was able to tolerate the novel despite its lack of a strong narrative and yet after reading for days, I’d see my Kindle meter budge from 14% to 18%. I finally abandoned this at the 45% mark. Everything you need to know about the book is there in the title. If you have a curiosity about Egyptology or one of the most powerful female rulers in history, this might be a good starting point, particularly at the high school level. The prose is accessible. I say “starting point” because my bullshit detector was on high alert throughout this book. Historical fact seemed to be bent here at the service of trying to tell a good story. For example, I’m uncertain whether Cleopatra was actually in Rome on the Ides of March and helped recover Julius Caesar’s body, or this was dramatic license. This book was so long that I didn’t have the energy to consult Google as I went along. The Memoirs of Cleopatra would’ve been a 2.99 star read right down the middle for me. I was neither bored nor thrilled. I learned about the geopolitics of antiquity and I questioned how much was accurate. I didn’t fall asleep reading it nor did I finish reading it. If I had a child interested in learning about heads of state who’ve been women, I’d direct them to the Netflix series The Crown, which is a way more compelling dramatization of a monarch (Queen Elizabeth II) learning to govern following the death of the king. By comparison, this novel is sort of just there. And there. And there and there and there. Margaret George was born in Nashville, Tennessee in 1943. Her father joined the U.S. Foreign Service when George was 4 and over the next nine years she hopped from Taiwan, Israel (Tel Aviv) and Germany (Bonn and Berlin) before returning to Washington D.C. to attend high school. She worked as a science writer for four years at the National Cancer Institute. For the last thirty years, George and her husband have called Madison, Wisconsin home. In the event you missed them: Previous reviews in the Year of Women: Come Closer, Sara Gran Veronica, Mary Gaitskill Clothes, Clothes, Clothes, Music, Music, Music, Boys, Boys, Boys, Viv Albertine Pizza Girl, Jean Kyoung Frazier My Year of Rest and Relaxation, Ottessa Moshfegh Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, Fannie Flagg

  14. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    Great read, a page-turner. I thought that 900 pgs of historical fiction would make me gag, but the plot was well-developed, the story tight, and the writing good. A great love story written as if from Cleopatra herself.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jeanette Lewis

    This is an epic novel of 944 pages ending with the Tenth Scroll of Cleopatra's life. Much has been told in books and movies of the adult life of this incredible woman, however the childhood of Cleopatra is what enticed me to read this book. The author creates a vivid picture of the life of this young woman destined initially to share through protocol the ruling of Egypt with her younger brother Ptolemy, 9 years old. Fourteen year old Cleopatra is aghast at the thought of marriage as was the trad This is an epic novel of 944 pages ending with the Tenth Scroll of Cleopatra's life. Much has been told in books and movies of the adult life of this incredible woman, however the childhood of Cleopatra is what enticed me to read this book. The author creates a vivid picture of the life of this young woman destined initially to share through protocol the ruling of Egypt with her younger brother Ptolemy, 9 years old. Fourteen year old Cleopatra is aghast at the thought of marriage as was the tradition to this young "whining little tattletale". Egypt and Rome are at the height of their powers, however Egypt is the sophisticated country with great monuments, pyramids, museums, city structures and trading alliances already in place, a country of great wealth and living in peace with its neighbours, while Rome has yet to establish itself on the building grandeur of a similar scale, rather Rome is a conquering nation intent on creating the largest ruling nation ever. However, it's Egypt's wealth and beauty along with the magnificent Cleopatra that acts as an all encompassing seductress for the Romans, Caesar and Mark Antony are both beguiled by it all. Egypt's price for its wealth and relative peace with Rome is a costly alliance with money pouring out of the treasury for Rome. Apart from this overly detailed novel there are points of interest in particular for those who have travelled to this part of the world and to "Asia Minor", Turkey etc where the extent of the Greek and Roman power is still on display today, in many cases the Roman/Greek ruins superior to those in popular tourist countries of Europe, (the Romans tended to build on top of existing structures). Ephesus is a place where Cleopatra travels to with descriptions of its beauty still relevant today. However, Cleopatra is horrified with the interpretive sculpting of the goddess Artemis, fearful of it, leaves with Marc Antony making fun of her anxiety. The original Temple of Artemis was built about 550 BCE by King Croesus of Lydia however, the history of it being burnt or destroyed and rebuilt is amazing, a temple so revered. Ephesus was once listed as one of the seven wonders of the world and is also referred to in the Christian Bible. The statue of Artemis (completely different from the Greek/Roman version) mentioned in the book,a discovery was made of her statue from Roman ruins, and is now held at the museum in Ephesus. The Temple of Artemis marvelled by Cleopatra, it's ruins are still visible in Ephesus, today.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Lukas Anthony

    WOW, this book truly feels like an accomplishment to complete. My edition totalled 1137 pages, which probably makes it the largest book I have ever read. I'm also sad that it's actually over too, as it was a surprisingly engrossing read. I think my enjoyment of this novel was helped out by the fact that I knew very little of Cleopatra's life before reading, I knew of the basics of course. Her affairs with Caesar and Anthony, and her chosen form of death, but other than that I was completely igno WOW, this book truly feels like an accomplishment to complete. My edition totalled 1137 pages, which probably makes it the largest book I have ever read. I'm also sad that it's actually over too, as it was a surprisingly engrossing read. I think my enjoyment of this novel was helped out by the fact that I knew very little of Cleopatra's life before reading, I knew of the basics of course. Her affairs with Caesar and Anthony, and her chosen form of death, but other than that I was completely ignorant. The writer does extremely well in creating ancient Egypt, in fact at times, it felt like if I was to magically appear there, that I would easily be able to find my way around. The descriptions were beautiful, the Nile, the Temples, everything was grand and well described. If I have any criticisms, it is that certain points do become slightly repetitive. Cleopatra finds herself telling Anthony and Ceaser that she loves them many times, and from the Author's notes it's clear that those relationships have become a lot more romanticised, and the last two hundred pages are an agonising wait to the conclusion (but considering this is historically accurate that can't be helped)…but, overall it truly is a wonderful novel, I don't especially see myself reading it a second time but I can't recommend it enough. I also have George's 'Helen of Troy' novel, so that will be in the to-read pile, although I think a break from historical fiction is due for a while.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Misfit

    But still a very good read. Very well written and researched story about an incredibly fascinating, intelligent, courageous and loving woman, a brilliant politician, but above all that a Queen. There are times when the book drags on a bit, with long descriptions of feasts, the court and court life and the business of running the country, but when she met up with Caesar (sp?) and then again with Marc Anthony things really started to cook, especially the final heartbreaking moments at the end. The But still a very good read. Very well written and researched story about an incredibly fascinating, intelligent, courageous and loving woman, a brilliant politician, but above all that a Queen. There are times when the book drags on a bit, with long descriptions of feasts, the court and court life and the business of running the country, but when she met up with Caesar (sp?) and then again with Marc Anthony things really started to cook, especially the final heartbreaking moments at the end. The author did an excellent job of portraying these two great men, Caesar and Marc Antony, particularly Antony, a flawed but ever so fascinating man. All in all a great book to read once, but not one I will keep on the shelf to read again and again due to some of the repetition and lengthy descriptions of the life of a monarch, hence only 4 stars. Don't misunderstand me, it was an excellent book and I'm glad I read it and the story of such a great woman and queen, but it's one of the few books that once I've finished I have no desire to read again and again.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Charlotte

    Whew! What a long book. This was my first foray into anything Cleopatran and I thought it was well worth it. I like long books, but this one was almost too long for me. Especially the last third of the book became very repetitive. How many times can she pine over Antony and worry about her children inheriting an Empire without sounding droll? Then again, it probably was an agonizing time of waiting for her - no emails or cell phone or AP newswire in those days to keep you informed. I really got a Whew! What a long book. This was my first foray into anything Cleopatran and I thought it was well worth it. I like long books, but this one was almost too long for me. Especially the last third of the book became very repetitive. How many times can she pine over Antony and worry about her children inheriting an Empire without sounding droll? Then again, it probably was an agonizing time of waiting for her - no emails or cell phone or AP newswire in those days to keep you informed. I really got a sense of Egypt, and Alexandria as the New York of the Ancient World. I loved the descriptions of the Nile, Alexander's Tomb, Isis' Temple, etc. It was very transporting. The character of Cleopatra was also very endearing. She was intelligent, feeling, capable, creative and bold. I say "the character" of Cleopatra because I have my doubts as to how realistic this might have been. Some of her actions were so selfish that I had a hard time squaring that away with the character I was becoming so fond of.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Tracy

    Well, I gave this my best shot. I wanted to love this book, but at 28% I'm setting it aside. It just doesn't have much action. When it does I enjoyed it, but it is primarily long-winded descriptions of the environment. I like learning about these things, but I learn fast. When it goes on and on I find myself getting bored or even falling asleep. I've had several friends rave about this book and so out of respect to them I tried to carry on as long as I could. I'm just not having fun with it at t Well, I gave this my best shot. I wanted to love this book, but at 28% I'm setting it aside. It just doesn't have much action. When it does I enjoyed it, but it is primarily long-winded descriptions of the environment. I like learning about these things, but I learn fast. When it goes on and on I find myself getting bored or even falling asleep. I've had several friends rave about this book and so out of respect to them I tried to carry on as long as I could. I'm just not having fun with it at this point so I'm going to move on....

  20. 5 out of 5

    Natasa

    This fictional account about Cleopatra was well researched and included many details that few know. It is a work of fiction and to make a story, one has to take liberties. Overall, it was well done, given the many sources that provide conflicting opinions. 

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    FAVORITE book of all time. I would love to know Cleopatra.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Brittany B.

    5 Stars + This is beyond so far beyond most books that 5 stars isn't nearly enough... In a class by itself, I fell in love with Cleopatra and learned more ancient history than I did in school. Truly extraordinary. Margaret George is THE FINEST AUTHOR of historical fiction. I wasn't even interested in Cleopatra, but George opened my eyes to a true goddess on earth. The research George did for the book is unbelievable, but it is placed so seamlessly into the story that you hardly realize what it 5 Stars + This is beyond so far beyond most books that 5 stars isn't nearly enough... In a class by itself, I fell in love with Cleopatra and learned more ancient history than I did in school. Truly extraordinary. Margaret George is THE FINEST AUTHOR of historical fiction. I wasn't even interested in Cleopatra, but George opened my eyes to a true goddess on earth. The research George did for the book is unbelievable, but it is placed so seamlessly into the story that you hardly realize what it took to write this masterpiece!!! You will fall in love with Egypt, Alexandria and the legendary Cleopatra! Ps- I rave about Margaret George's The Autobiography of Henry VIII: With Notes by His Fool, Will Somers. Check that one out too. Two of the best books I've ever read!!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Alex ☣ Deranged KittyCat ☣

    I did it! I finished the bloody book. And I give it more like 2.5 stars because it was ok and I liked it every now and then. But most of the times I disliked its length. There were too many pages for the smallest of things. I felt them creeping at me. Then again, what I found most appealing was Cleopatra's portrayal. She is not some evil, man-eating seductress. Actually, she has only 2 lovers during her lifetime in Memoirs of Cleopatra. Anyway, I'm just glad it's over! I did it! I finished the bloody book. And I give it more like 2.5 stars because it was ok and I liked it every now and then. But most of the times I disliked its length. There were too many pages for the smallest of things. I felt them creeping at me. Then again, what I found most appealing was Cleopatra's portrayal. She is not some evil, man-eating seductress. Actually, she has only 2 lovers during her lifetime in Memoirs of Cleopatra. Anyway, I'm just glad it's over!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kate.

    I just loved this huge book. It took over my life for a month. Cleopatra narrates her life story from a young princess to her rise as the notorious Queen of Egypt. This book is truly an epic. The details, descriptions, scandals and characters are vivid and staggering. Egypt and the Roman Empire are characters in their own right. It’s been a whirlwind history lesson and has left me wanting to learn more about the Roman Empire and its movers and shakers. It’s a book that completely consumes you and I just loved this huge book. It took over my life for a month. Cleopatra narrates her life story from a young princess to her rise as the notorious Queen of Egypt. This book is truly an epic. The details, descriptions, scandals and characters are vivid and staggering. Egypt and the Roman Empire are characters in their own right. It’s been a whirlwind history lesson and has left me wanting to learn more about the Roman Empire and its movers and shakers. It’s a book that completely consumes you and by the end you may find you miss Cleo.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    I'd give this book 4.5 stars. It was a great read but I would not re-read this book, which is a requirement of me giving it 5 stars. The story itself was beautifully written, I was a little disappointed Cleopatra's story revolved around men versus a strong female lead. the characters had great development and was a great read for lovers of historical fiction. I'd give this book 4.5 stars. It was a great read but I would not re-read this book, which is a requirement of me giving it 5 stars. The story itself was beautifully written, I was a little disappointed Cleopatra's story revolved around men versus a strong female lead. the characters had great development and was a great read for lovers of historical fiction.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    Margaret George has done it again! Just as she did in The Autobiography of Henry VIII, Margaret George has given an utterly realistic voice to a famous historical figure, while remaining true to the facts contained in whatever documented sources are available. Many other novels about Cleopatra focus only on her affairs with Julius Caesar and Marc Antony. Many of them also repeat the myths and inaccurate stories about her that grew out of Roman propaganda. Books like these usually ignore the facts Margaret George has done it again! Just as she did in The Autobiography of Henry VIII, Margaret George has given an utterly realistic voice to a famous historical figure, while remaining true to the facts contained in whatever documented sources are available. Many other novels about Cleopatra focus only on her affairs with Julius Caesar and Marc Antony. Many of them also repeat the myths and inaccurate stories about her that grew out of Roman propaganda. Books like these usually ignore the facts that Cleopatra was not a femme fatale who seduced hundreds of men, but a capable ruler who competently governed Egypt by herself for many years; that she was actually only with two men in her entire life (her arranged dynastic “marriages” to her brothers were almost certainly in name only); that she was also mother to four children. Cleopatra’s real story has enough drama, love, war, and intrigue to make a fascinating tale all on its own, and Margaret George does it full justice. Cleopatra’s stories of her childhood are probably mostly from George’s imagination, but very plausible. George then has Cleopatra relate how she overcomes the palace coups staged by her own family; how she allies herself to Julius Caesar and later to Marc Antony to maintain Egypt’s independence, falling in love with each of them in different ways; how she convinces Antony to join her in an attempt to create an eastern dynasty after they realize that Octavian is untrustworthy. And finally how, after being defeated by Octavian and losing Antony, she decides to maintain her dignity by committing suicide rather than being taken back to Rome by Octavian to be paraded in his Triumph. The story is written in first person in the form of a memoir, with an epilogue by her physician Olympos, who was an actual historical figure whose writings are an important accurate source for Cleopatra’s life and especially her deathbed scene. The book is a little long, because George goes into full detail about everything, but you are so caught up in the story that you hardly notice. I always wondered how history would have been different if Cleopatra could have been content to confine herself to governing an independent Egypt instead of making a bid to expand her territory. But even Cleopatra was not immune to the dreams of empire-building that all monarchs seem to have had then.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Charlotte Guzman

    This was a very, very long book, but a great one. My favorite type of book to read (historical novel) and this author is my all time favorite in this genre. I read two others by this author and loved those also. This kind of book isn't for everyone but I love to learn about history with the story of the character to go along. Cleopatra was a big story to tell and the author told from Cleopatra's POV. This made it very personal throughout the book and so I was inside the story the whole time. Like This was a very, very long book, but a great one. My favorite type of book to read (historical novel) and this author is my all time favorite in this genre. I read two others by this author and loved those also. This kind of book isn't for everyone but I love to learn about history with the story of the character to go along. Cleopatra was a big story to tell and the author told from Cleopatra's POV. This made it very personal throughout the book and so I was inside the story the whole time. Like I said a BIG story and a lot of history put into personal story. Highly recommended.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jenks

    A book this large is an accomplishment no matter the reader . Most people have reviewed this as not great because of every conversation being discussed - I disagree I loved the level of detail the author created and the dialogues at every stage of the story. As you can see from my reading history I love ancient Egypt so this novel just fulfilled my need for a book that felt it wasn’t going to end ...sadly it did. Great novel !

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kurt Reichenbaugh

    Sheesh, this was a long book! I think I spent most of the past month reading it. Was it worth it? Well, yeah, it was. I liked much of it. I liked Cleopatra, the person in this novel, a lot. She often held it together, in spite of incredible pressures, betrayals, grief, and wars surrounding her. She also had to keep it together while Marc Antony fell apart. Could there have been some editing in this cinder block of a novel? Yes. But you can say that about most any novel. Reading the book I kept t Sheesh, this was a long book! I think I spent most of the past month reading it. Was it worth it? Well, yeah, it was. I liked much of it. I liked Cleopatra, the person in this novel, a lot. She often held it together, in spite of incredible pressures, betrayals, grief, and wars surrounding her. She also had to keep it together while Marc Antony fell apart. Could there have been some editing in this cinder block of a novel? Yes. But you can say that about most any novel. Reading the book I kept thinking how this must have been a very difficult novel for Margaret George to write. There isn't a whole lot we know of the real Cleopatra. This is both an advantage in providing the author room for interpretation, and a disadvantage in honoring the real history behind the events depicted. I think she did a good job with these fictional memoirs. And reading it encouraged me to look up the real people and places and temple visited in the book. So, yup, I'd recommend it to fans of historical fiction.

  30. 4 out of 5

    maricar

    The Queen of Egypt, speaking in a unique voice expressing unexpected thoughts… I’d admit that I put off reading this novel for the longest time—its thickness was an excuse I harped on, fearing that I might get bored with the story without even reaching the half of it (despite reviews to the contrary). Of course, I realized the foolishness of this sentiment soon enough when I found myself staying up well into the hours of the night, turning page after page, losing myself in the grandiosity and hars The Queen of Egypt, speaking in a unique voice expressing unexpected thoughts… I’d admit that I put off reading this novel for the longest time—its thickness was an excuse I harped on, fearing that I might get bored with the story without even reaching the half of it (despite reviews to the contrary). Of course, I realized the foolishness of this sentiment soon enough when I found myself staying up well into the hours of the night, turning page after page, losing myself in the grandiosity and harshness of Ptolemaic Egypt and the treacherous, unstable world that was Rome. Through it all, I marveled at the skill with which Margaret George sought to blend truth with the long-established views of Cleopatra as the seducer and corrupter of powerful men, and the harbinger of Rome’s doom. A scintillating novel, couched in colorful prose that one can actually feel the heat and grit of the desert sands, the cool polished floors of the palace halls, and the breeze that sweeps from across the bay right into Cleopatra’s window. The figures of Caesar, Antony, and Octavian are just as striking—with allusions to human weaknesses and failings behind their powerful personas. And even secondary characters like Olympos and Mardian bring a touch of humor, whimsy, and even more humanness to the mystery that is Cleopatra. From those first words of salutation to the goddess Isis, to the accounts of events after the Queen’s suicide, The Memoirs of Cleopatra stands as a masterful story that brought to vivid life the woman, the mother, and the ruler possessed of unflagging strength of love and loyalty to her people, her children, and her lovers. Her silent “admissions” of fear, frustration, loneliness, and even pain make this “memoirs” truly unique, as it purports to shed a tantalizingly unexpected dimension in her person when held against the usual non-savory portrayals of her in the annals of history.

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