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Kleopatra Paperback – August 1, 2002

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; Reprint edition (August 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446679178
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446679176
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,121,140 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This retelling of the legendary Egyptian monarch's story opens when she is "three years old and she cannot speak even one sentence of passable Greek." All the familiar aspects of her life unfold with an emphasis on palace intrigues, royal excesses and scheming courtiers but Essex also highlights the young princess's prodigious talents for language, adventure and politics. In contrast to many authors who wish to humanize Kleopatra and focus only on her life as a woman, Essex chooses to explore her subject's absolute dedication to the political intrigues of her time, and her connection to Greek culture (hence the unusual spelling of her name). While the framework is familiar, her rendering of the ancient world's culture and political machinations make this fast-paced treatment of Kleopatra's adventures particularly engaging. Exhaustive research is evident throughout, in the form of intriguing minutiae such as a list of the exotic dishes at a banquet or meticulous descriptions of astounding displays during a pageant in honor of Dionysus. When Kleopatra's father, Ptolemy XII Auletes, is exiled to Rome, the young princess accompanies him, both literally and figuratively leaving behind her childhood in preparation for ruling Egypt. When she returns, she is named co-regent with her father, who dies shortly thereafter. She marries her half-brother and eventually raises an army with her cousin and lover, Archimedes. This volume ends with the young queen in exile, waiting for Julius Caesar; a sequel is in the works. Essex delivers a consistent and historically accurate reading of Kleopatra, and even those who think they know the queen will discover new facets of her life that will engage both the intellect and the senses. (Aug. 9)Forecast: Cleopatra junkies will snatch this up, but a captivating jacket and title should attract ancient-world neophytes, too.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Cleopatra, or Kleopatra as her name is spelled in Greek, inherited little from her father, Ptolemy XII, other than his Macedonian profile and the throne of Egypt. Where he was obese, indolent, and self-indulgent, the young queen was cunning, ambitious, and ruthless. Ptolemy, through gross mismanagement and a series of disastrous financial alliances with Rome, had alienated the Egyptian people to the point of rebellion. After his death, Kleopatra was exiled by her brother/husband and his cabinet. First novelist Essex focuses on Kleopatra's early years (the book ends when she is 22 years old and meeting Julius Caesar for the first time) and on her Greek origins. The Greek-speaking Ptolemy pharaohs neither knew nor cared about the customs of Egypt, but Kleopatra learned the Egyptian language, something no Ptolemy had done before. In return, the Egyptians gave her their support in her struggle to wrest the throne from her brother. Essex's Kleopatra is a more approachable woman than the Cleopatra of Colin Falconer's When We Were Gods (LJ 10/1/00), and her abundant youthful audacity and confidence are appealing compared with Falconer's powerful, controlled ruler. Yet the two novels together create a complete portrait of the child, the woman, and the queen. Recommended for most historical fiction collections. Jane Baird, Anchorage Municipal Libs., AK
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Karen Essex is the author of five novels of historical fiction. The latest, DRACULA IN LOVE, retells Bram Stoker's tale from the female perspective. STEALING ATHENA chronicles the fantastic journey of the controversial Elgin Marbles. The national and international bestseller LEONARDO'S SWANS, for which she won Italy's prestigious 2007 Premio Roma for foreign fiction, is the story of the rivalry between Leonardo's muses. Essex also wrote two acclaimed biographical novels, KLEOPATRA and PHARAOH, about the infamous queen of Egypt.

She is also an award winning journalist and a screenwriter, and wrote BETTIE PAGE: LIFE OF A PINUP LEGEND, the only authorized biography of the late pin-up icon.

Presently dividing her time between London and Los Angeles, Karen invites friends and readers to follow along as she chronicles her adventures, joys, and sorrows in putting together a complex work of historical fiction: www.karenessex.com/blog. Also, please follow her on Twitter: www.Twitter.com/karenessex.

Customer Reviews

There were also scenes of random sex that were a bit... unnecessary.
P. D.
Finally a writer of historical fiction who is as gifted with the telling and as serious about the research as Ken Follett!
Her characters are well developed and the description of the surroundings are vivid.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on August 2, 2001
Format: Hardcover
The young Cleopatra shows her intelligence at an early age in spite of growing up in the decadent court of her pitiful father Ptolemy. Her half-brother hates her out of jealousy for her Machiavellian skills (is that an anachronism?) and with the help of her lover Archimedes she raises an army to help her attain the throne she desires. However, Kleopatra's obvious intelligence and abilities fail to keep her from exile as the Romans rule the world, but she plans to conquer Julius Caesar (see the next volume).
This is an incredible fictional biography that contains a fantastic look at Ancient Egypt and Rome using historical tidbits to tell the story of Cleopatra, the early years. The novel turns a legend into a person while concentrating on the heroine's adventures, political machinations, and the classical Greek culture that she wants to emulate. Fans of Ancient historical tales and Cleopatra will want to read this book, the upcoming sequel (the Caesar-Anthony years of her life) and Colin Falconer's WHEN WE WERE GODS as a companion piece. Ms. Essex capitalizes the H in historical as she provides a rich textured, fast-paced tale that should lead to the latest Egyptology boom.

Harriet Klausner
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Molly E. Secours on July 31, 2001
Format: Hardcover
The spirit and essence of Kleopatra is alive and well. Thanks to historian/fiction writer Karen Essex, Kleopatra is no longer the "Cover girl" of the ancient world. Essex's deep respect for the Egyptian Queen is apparent from the first page as the reader is gently coaxed into discarding preconceived images of a mythical temptress/ruler and joining Essex on a journey to discover the woman in her entirety.
Instead of a legendary enchantress we meet the child Kleopatra who speaks numerous languages and dialects by the age of ten. We empathize with the woman-child who understand so much more than those around her and feel a twinge of pain at her impatience for her body to grow into her wisdom. Essex expertly excavates the depth of Kleopatra and satisfies the longing of all woman--to be seen completely. We are convinced. Kleopatra possessed the spirit of a ruler at birth.
Essex's vivid descriptions of Egypt are startling and her ability to illustrate the political atmosphere in gripping detail is enviable. There are some erotic scenes in which the author gently nudges us to remember ancient rites that are strangely familiar and yet unimaginable. Kleopatra is grounded in factual history and painted with delicate fictional strokes that breathe life into the woman, the myth and the Queen.
I recommend this book to anyone and everyone who has ever wondered who Kleopatra really was. The feminine icons of our time should hope that someone like Essex comes after them to tell their story. ... do yourself (and your viewers) a favor--put this book on your reading list!
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By William M. Akers on August 12, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Couldn't put this down. I hate to think how much research went into the writing of this book, but the good news is, the research doesn't "show" or get in the way of the story. Kleopatra is a fascinating character study of a very clever woman facing incredible odds. One of the few really gripping stories I've read in the past several years, I was hooked from the beginning. Karen Essex took me to a complex world that is not only totally real, but filled with fascinating people and events. I can't get the images of ancient Egypt out of my head, and when I wasn't reading, all I wanted to do was get back to the book.
Kleopatra is marvelous, a book I wouldn't hesitate to recommend to anyone.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Richard Schexnayder on August 4, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Karen Essex has accomplished no small feat with her historical novel "Kleopatra"; few writers possess the skill to take a history lesson and make it not only interesting but captivating. The manner in which she weaves fact and fiction is brilliant, presenting a richly told story that is never lacking in any aspect. The only disappointment was that it had to end. When can we expect the rest?
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Niklas Morgan on January 6, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Kleopatra as a clever und highly intelligent Queen, who wanted to keep her country independent from the Roman Empire. The prose is beautiful and the well known story convincingly told. The historical trivia is entertaining and keeps to the well accepted facts. For the history and the research she deserves 5 stars.

However, from the point of a reader of historic novels, I feel somewhat disappointed. The reason I bought this book (and the sequel) was not to get a precise biography of the late Roman Republic. For this you might as well read good biographies, like that by Michael Grant. A historical novel should contain a bit more fiction, a bit more speculation, and a bit of controversy, which may not be approved by the history professor next door, but fits into the storyline or is expected by the reader. Somehow I got bored in the middle of the sequel, since I knew the history well and was not offered something "new" to keep me hooked. Minus 1 star.

Another point irritated me. You notice through most parts of the book, that it is written by a female American writer. The book is a women's book for a female audience. In both volumes you get just about a hint of sexuality at the beginning as a teaser, the violence is modest, the characters sometimes very politically correct. I accept the author's intention to describe Kleopatra in a different way than the wanton seducer of all men around her. This is historically correct and not my point. But Kleopatra was not a woman following Christian moral in a Hellenistic time half a century before the birth of Christ. For a book dealing with a time period of war, conquest, male dominance and brutality the setting is simply to sterile and clean to be convincing.
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