- Series: A Fall of Egypt Novel
- Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: Back Bay Books; Reprint edition (July 5, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 031638299X
- ISBN-13: 978-0316382991
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #343,078 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Cleopatra's Shadows (A Fall of Egypt Novel) Paperback – July 5, 2016
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"We forget that Cleopatra was a Macedonian, her royal house a relic of the career of Alexander the Great. Where Cleopatra went to bed with Rome, her half-sister Berenice, at nineteen, tried to hold the Egyptian throne against it, while her sister Arsinoe, still a child, fought to hang on in the margins. Prophetic dreams, fraying family bonds, and desperate development of strength in crisis define this affecting work of historical fiction."―Zachary Mason, author of The Lost Books of the Odyssey
"A colorful tale full of the sights and smells of ancient Egypt, with palace intrigues populated by eunuchs, learned tutors, and slaves of every stripe."―Enid Shomer, author of The Twelve Rooms of the Nile
"Holleman richly resuscitates this ancient world of danger, illuminating the lives of the women of one extraordinary lineage and their audacious, overt scrambles towards power."―Kara Cooney, author of The Woman Who Would Be King: Hatshepsut's Rise to Power in Ancient Egypt
"The rich, exotic world created by Emily Holleman in her debut novel, CLEOPATRA'S SHADOWS, is mesmerizing. Intrigue, betrayal and the near-destruction of a dynasty follow in the footsteps of Cleopatra's little-known, but ambitious sisters, Arsinoe and Berenice. A perfect marriage of dedicated research and passionately inventive story telling."―Kathleen Kent, author of The Outcasts
"These characters lived and breathed their lives beyond the page and I could feel them in the room with me. Evocative, immersive and engrossing. I truly loved it."―Elizabeth Chadwick, author of The Summer Queen
"Readers will sympathize with Berenice as she battles formidable odds.... Holleman succeeds in teasing vivid throughlines from an incredibly complex period.... Her language, anachronism-free, artfully captures the matrix of myth and epic which nurtures and inspires her characters. A high-stakes family drama."―Kirkus Reviews
"Women have, throughout history, been secondary-often recorded (if at all) as complementary, or as muse to man's genius. But now, as modern societies are re-appraising the value of women, so too are books evolving to match. Readers are pulled into worlds previously closed off-full of tenacity, adventure, and scandal-page-turning, yes, but real. Cleopatra's Shadows reimagines Cleopatra's history through the perspective of her younger sister Arsinoe. We want these stories more than ever."―Meredith Turits, Vanity Fair
"An outstanding debut novel.... Some writers seem destined to unearth the truth of a time and a place and a set of people: Mary Renault and Alexander, Hilary Mantel and Thomas Cromwell and now Emily Holleman and the last generation of Ptolemies. The vivacity, the verve, the sense of bone deep truth of the writing-all are superb. There's a freshness to the prose that is truly captivating, and a dynamism to the narrative that gives life to the people whose names are otherwise a footnote in history."―Manda Scott, author of The Crystal Skull
"Breathing new life into these historical personalities.... Holleman offers a fresh take on the Ptolemy dynasty and has delivered what promises to be just the first in an exciting series about Arsinoe, youngest sister of Cleopatra."―Jane Henriksen Baird, Library Journal (starred review)
"Holleman artfully depicts real women of the ancient world, who used their own wits and wiles to maneuver among the most brilliant men of their age.... A triumphantly fresh tale for historians and casual fans alike."―Carly Silver, ancienthistory.com
"This historically detailed exploration of life on the Nile during the Ptolemy dynasty feels like a breath of fresh air after the 'Downton'-inspired wave of 20th-century historical fiction. Fans of Madeline Miller's Song of Achilles should take note."―BookPage
"Historically detailed and multilayered.... With scintillating visual details of gorgeous palaces, rich temples, and the famous library of Alexandria, [Cleopatra's Shadows] evok[es] a world in which the ancient heroes Alexander and Odysseus-and Greek tragic characters such as Antigone-come to life.... Holleman's imaginative, textured portraits of the lives and ambitions of these little-known heroines will appeal to readers of historical and literary fiction alike."―Publishers Weekly
"Riveting."―Steph Opitz, Marie Claire
"Holleman brings Alexandria to beautiful, spirited and, at times, tragic, life."―Mickey McAlary, Brooklyn Magazine
"Vivid [and] page-turning."―Redbook
"The story of Cleopatra has been told many times over, in many different ways, though there's a certain consistency to the tale's key elements - the seductiveness, the asp, the sultry kohl eyeliner.... Holleman break[s] free of the clichés dogging the last great pharaoh of Ptolemaic Egypt, the better to see her fresh.... Arsinoe and Berenice might be confined to the shadows of history, but here they are squarely in the limelight, powerful protagonists of their own dramas. They could easily give the women of Game of Thrones a run for their money."―Alexandra Schwartz, Salon
"Abundant historical references and details of court life create a strong setting for a dialogue-driven story.... The well-researched novel covers little known material from a fascinating historical period."―Booklist
"Holleman break[s] free of the clichés dogging the last great pharaoh of Ptolemaic Egypt, the better to see her fresh.... [Arsinoe and Berenice] could easily give the women of Game of Thrones a run for their money."―Alexandra Schwartz, Salon
About the Author
Emily Holleman, a graduate of Yale University, spent several years as an editor for Salon--a job she left to follow Arsinoe and her quest for the throne of Egypt. Currently based in Brooklyn, she has devoted the past three years to reading and writing about the Ptolomies and is, like Arsinoe, a younger sister.
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Top Customer Reviews
This is a story of Cleopatra's two sisters: Arsinoe ("younger") and Berenice ("elder'). The story begins when Berenice overthrows her father's kingdom and then spins the tale of the aftermath of this coup. Holleman brings to life not just the lead characters - the two sisters - but the various Eunuchs and advisors and even friends who cross these sisters' paths.
Often when a book is told from more than one point of view, you find yourself liking one voice better, or at least eagerly awaiting the sections told from that voice's point of view. The magic of this novel is that I actually found myself a little sad when each section ended, whether it was the elder or younger's voice. At first I favored one sister, then the other....and ultimately Holleman does an excellent job of making both characters not just likable but human and flawed enough to care about their futures. Through careful word choice, much research and an eye for detail, Holleman manages to have each side of the story bring forth its own twists, its own unraveling, its own shadows.
A more subtle brilliance of this book is that it made me want to learn more about a time period about whichI knew (and frankly cared) very little. For a non-historical fiction kind of gal, that is saying a lot.
Finally, I must disagree with the reviewer who claims that the title of this book is misleading as it suggests the book is about Cleopatra herself (which it is not). Personally, I found the title to be a spot-on summary of what is to come in the book itself: Mystery, a little-known supporting cast and ultimately the shadowy story behind the more well-known sister's rise.