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Showing 1-10 of 303 reviews(5 star). Show all reviews
on March 13, 2003
It's really a stunning work, and having now done most of the research myself, I can see that Margaret George has made very historically correct, or at least acceptable choices. Sometimes all you can do is choose when there is conflicting evidence. Margaret George is writing for Cleopatra's side, so if there's a dispute or an interpretation of propaganda, she resolves it in Cleopatra's favor. (Such as the death of her youngest brother Ptolemy.)
On the one hand, writing a story about this period of history is a no-brainer. It's one of the most compelling love-stories of all time. You really can't screw it up. On the other hand, she does a beautiful portrayal of the major characters in the book. Caesar sweeps the reader off their feet--as if he were one of those heroes in a romance novel, flawed only insofar as his imperfections will make the reader love him. When he dies, one does feel the momentary blotting out of the sun.
Cleopatra herself, tireless, shrewd and inspiring. We wonder if we could have gone on in similar circumstances the way she did, time and time again.
In truth, but for one very talented admiral Agrippa, our lives could all be very different today. Antony might have been the perfection that died with Caesar. But with the war having gone the other way, it's Antony that had to be the greatest challenge to Margaret George as a writer. Lets face it. He's history's biggest loser. And all the propaganda of the time paints him as unmanly, foolish, drunken, and weak. Margaret George uses his letters to revive a different kind of Antony. One who is manly and warm-hearted, and dreadfully, tragically, honorable.
Margaret George makes Antony lovable in a way that even Richard Burton's massive acting talent, Elizabeth Taylor's passion, and all the money in Hollywood could not. And for that alone, she must be honored.
Fantastic work.
11 comment134 of 143 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on October 4, 2003
I am a prolific reader, at about 50 or so books a year and accurate historical fiction is my biggest passion. This book is one of the best researched, best written novels I have ever had the pleasure to read. I hated for it to end, especially knowing how it had to end.
I laughed with Cleopatra, I cried with her, I fell in love with Marc Antony, and I hated Octavian. Ms George is a writer of exquisite talent. She brings to life an epic time period, major historical events, and bigger than life characters realistically, beliveably and seamlessly.
I would recommend this book, and I am looking forward to reading her other works.
11 comment37 of 40 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on December 15, 2001
I've done slight research on Cleopatra in the past so I'm easiy disappointed when she seems wrongly or sloppily portrayed in books or movies. If there's any author out there who is perfect for writing Cleopatra's biography (voiced as an autobiography) it's Margaret George. The story is beautifully and gracefully woven together from the first page and once I started I did not want to put it down. Of course I had to, many times, since the book is over 900 pages long, but that just made it better because there was more too read - I didn't want it to end. George pays immense attention to detail to give the reader a real view not only of who Cleopatra was, but what the culture and time period and location she lived in were really like. George also does an brilliant job of portraying Cleopatra as a real, albeit incredible, person that the reader attaches to throughout the book. I enjoyed the book all the way through and I recommend it to anyone, whether they know the story of Cleopatra or not, whether they like histories or romances or instructional pamphlets, they will love this book.
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on May 15, 2000
I have always been fascinated with Cleopatra, and when I was 13, I picked up this book and thought, I don't think I can get through this. Once I started reading, however, I began to think differently. This book keeps you on the egde, and puts you right there in ancient Alexandria. The book is written from the viewpoint of Cleopatra, whose voice is so rarely heard. She is one of the most discriminated women in history. Many think of her as a seductress that stole away married men from their true wives. This book shows a more human side to Cleopatra- a real person, with feelings and emotions. We go through her famous life, and on to her tragic death. People who think they know all about Cleopatra should read this book. They will find out so much more about her and her life. After reading this book, I searched for others, but none measured up. The writing quality Ms. George displays is amazing. When reading the detailed descriptions, you feel like you are right there. I loved this book, and you will too. If you love stories with strong female characters this book is for you. Cleopatra Ptolemy VII is my idol, and this book is a fitting tribute.
0Comment18 of 20 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on December 30, 2000
Margaret George has a real gift for bringing characters to life. Despite the fact that very little verifiable information survives about the real Cleopatra, George's active imagination has created an intriguing and fascinating title character in this epic piece of historical fiction. The author conjures up vivid imagery, peoples the story with three-dimensional characters, and has certainly done her research when it comes to representing Eqyptian and Roman culture of the era. She includes many historical facts, while creatively filling in the blanks with characters and events that are purely products of her wonderfully vivid imagination. The end result of this blend of fact and fiction is a thoroughly enjoyable, highly readable and fascinating account a remarkable (though mostly fabricated) woman.
While I tend to gravitate towards books based entirely on historical fact, I enjoyed Margaret George's Memoires of Cleopatra tremendously. Despite the ponderous size of the book, it's a light read and is immensely entertaining. It would make an excellent vacation book, as it is easy to loose yourself in it. I found myself sneaking it under my desk at work - I simply couldn't put it down. Don't be daunted by the book's length - I was sorry to see it end!
11 comment16 of 18 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on October 7, 2006
Let's be clear: I am an who borders on snobbery when it comes to the Ptolomies. I have always regarded them as upstarts, Greek effetes who brought Magnificent Egypt to its end of days, on its knees. I bought this book because I had so loved George's Henry VIII, and thought Cleo might at least interest me because of George's glorious writing. I was wrong--George has written of a woman of towering strength and fortitude, a story of love and death, a story of a bittersweet time, with very real humans, in all their frailty and dreams. Cleopatra is now ALIVE to me, a very real, very human person who lived, dreamed, hoped, feared and loved 2 millenia ago. I know it was fiction...but it was written in first person, and gave me the sense that I could have been Cleopatra, that any of my strong women friends could have been Cleopatra, and that Marc Antony could have been the man for any of us, flawed, brilliant, loving, generous and sexy. I nearly wept with fury when it it had to. I wanted to scream for more of the story...but there was no more. Need I say, I am not quite so snobby...about Cleopatra Ptolomy anyway. The rest of her family? Effete Greek upstarts. Buy the book--you won't be sorry.
0Comment12 of 13 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
VINE VOICEon January 22, 2008
"The Memoirs of Cleopatra" is an amazing piece of historical fiction that chronicles the life of the Queen of the Nile from her childhood until her tragic death. This books depicts Cleopatra as a strong and intelligent ruler who would do anything to protect her family, her children, and her greatest love of all: Egypt.

This is a truly an amazing story, and the narration is exceptional. Author Margaret George did meticulous research and covered all the major events in Cleopatra's life, including her rise to power at a young age, the numerous betrayals by her siblings, how she coped with Egypt's economic and political difficulties, and of course her relationships with Caesar and Marc Antony.

I was completely swept away by this book. So many details of the stories and details presented are grounded in historical evidence, and it's hard to remember that this is actually a work of fiction. George's portrayal of Cleopatra is simply stunning. If there's any fault with the book, it is perhaps that when faced with choosing between several different historical accounts, George always went with the version that painted Cleopatra in a better light. However, I don't see anything wrong with that, as it is fiction, after all.

I absolutely loved this book. It's a great story about a fantastic woman ruler, and it's also a passionate love story...two passionate love stories, actually! What a fabulous novel.
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on June 7, 1999
Many readers may now be discouraged from reading this book, thanks to the totally inaccurate ABC re-telling in its recent production of CLEOPATRA. Don't be discouraged! George's account was based on HISTORICAL DIGGING and NOT Hollywood fantasy! Having read several accounts of Cleopatra VII's life, I found George's to be especially refreshing. Her accounting of the Battle of Actium shed important, new historical accounts/theories on what probably happened. History has always been so HARD on both Cleopatra and Antony. Though they both made their share of mistakes (who hasn't?!), George's book strips away the cold marble facades of their museum busts, and places flesh and beating hearts into their characters. And for those who are loath to believe that Octavian (Caesar Augustus) was beyond flaw, remember that the way one acts in victory says MUCH about one's character. The tragedy revealed at the end of the book (the murders of two sons of Cleopatra and Antony, and the destruction of their statues and the smearing of their names) should be evidence enough that sometimes history can be extrememly wrong. Thanks Margaret George for finally telling the OTHER side of the story. It was illuminating, and I cried when Antony died. Readers, get your Kleenex OUT!
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on January 13, 2003
My husband had this book on his wishlist and his sister decided to purchase it for him at Christmas. Due to his own workload (a budding writer is always under a heavy workload), I picked it up to take a peak. What can I say.. I was rivetted.
This is NOT my normal selection of book, in fact Mary Queen of Scots has been sitting dormant on our shelves for months, having purchased it from a throw out library sale for 50cents. But Margaret George managed to bring her characters - historys characters - and the Roman empire to life for me.
A perfect blend of historical information and interesting interpretations which had me seeking every available opportunity to read. I ended up reading the book within a week - which isn't easy with a 2 and 1 year old.
So enthused was I that I purchased two other books pertaining to Caeser, just to know more, by Colleen McCullough. Her books I find to be left seriously wanting after the brilliance of Margaret George, but unless Ms George plans on writing a book dedicated to Caeser (Marcus Antonius would be great too..) it's all I have at hand.
In closing, one of the best books I've ever read. It opened my eyes to a part of history that before had no interest to me.
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on February 21, 2006
Do not be discouraged by the size of this massive book. It reads so smoothly and beautiful. You will find that you completed the entire book in record breaking time, and you will wish it never ended.

I have reccomended this book to many friends and relatives. Many are put off by the length However, the brave few who took my advice, were thanking me afterwards.

I have always loved stories about Cleopatra, and this one, is without exception the best. Ms. George really knows her history, and it is obviously clear that she took this book very seriously.

Ms. George weaves fiction and fact together so meticulously, that no seams are visable. At the same time she manages to stay true to historical accuracy as much as possible.

It is always a pleasure to read a book that is written by a person who is clearly an expert, not only in the craft of writing. But, in the topic as well.

The pages are filled with some of the best detailed and descriptive writing I have come across. You will feel as if you are inside of the story. When you have finished with the book, you will feel a longing to visit all of the places and lands Ms. George describes so beautifully. Not as a new visitor, but instead as a frequent traveler to a familiar place.

If you are in need of an escape, or a much needed vacation but don't see it happening in the near future. Then I reccomend you pick up this book, a warm throw and settle into your most comfortable chair. It's a shame we can only give 5 stars!
0Comment6 of 6 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

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