Ms. Moran takes us to the aftermath of Cleopatra’s suicide, when her children by Marc Antony, the twins Selene and Alexander, are taken from their homes and sent as trophies to Rome. Always uncertain of their fate, the children must acclimate to a foreign culture, a highly political court, and a Roman slave population that is on the brink of rebellion. Cleopatra’s clever daughter jumps at the chance to study architecture and ironically bonds with her father’s former wife Octavia, but she cannot stand by silently while slaves young and old are massacred on a whim.
This is a fresh take on the Antony and Cleopatra story, told through the eyes of their daughter who must pick up the pieces after their defeat. The story, however, feels predictable and slow to develop. More and more atrocities are heaped on Rome’s slaves, but Selene must stand by, unable to speak against the brutalities she witnesses. The fate of her and her brother can change on the same whim, the whim of Cesar Augustus. This is not my favorite book by Ms. Moran (I much preferred “Madame Tussaud”, reviewed here). As always, the historical details shine, but the story is plodding and unsurprising. I wished for a bit more drama.
Amazon link is here.