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The Memoirs of Cleopatra: A Novel Paperback – May 15, 1998

4.4 out of 5 stars 460 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Cleopatra has captivated generations, and this huge novel will ensure additional adulation. Beginning with a memory at age three of witnessing her mother's death and ending with her own suicide, Cleopatra tells her story. Both the telling and the tale are exceptional. George (Mary Queen of Scotland and the Isles, St. Martin's, 1992) combines history and legend with her own imagination to produce a fascinating portrait. Strangely, some of the more implausible events, such as Cleopatra's being hidden in a rug and taken to Caesar, are fact, not fiction. The graceful use of the language and the intense action make for compelling reading. Success is guaranteed: book club rights have been sold to the Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club, and miniseries rights have been sold to Hallmark Productions. For most libraries.?Dorothy S. Golden, Georgia Southern Univ., Statesboro
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Once again, George's years of research result in an extremely detailed historical novel; following The Autobiography of Henry VIII (1986) and Mary Queen of Scotland and the Isles (1992), the author now moves from sixteenth-century Europe to ancient North Africa to bring another legendary historical figure to contemporary understanding. Nimble despite its girth, the novel follows in first-person narrative every triumph and failure the famous queen of Egypt enjoyed and endured during her tumultuous life. This was, of course, a time when Egypt was at the mercy of more powerful neighbors; Cleopatra states the obvious when she says that "it seemed our fate was inextricably entwined with that of Rome." The other two major players on her stage were, as most readers know, Julius Caesar and Marc Antony; and those two figures spring to life along with the queen herself in these many but fast-flowing pages. For historical fiction readers who want to totally lose themselves, this accurate re-creation of a vastly interesting time and place will not disappoint. (The publicity push is considerable and miniseries rights already have been sold.) Brad Hooper --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 976 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; 4th ed. edition (May 15, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312187459
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312187453
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.7 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (460 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #75,663 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on August 12, 2000
Format: Paperback
Since childhood, the story of the legendary Ptolemaic Queen has captured my imagination. Throughout the years, I have read many books on Cleopatra - many of which have remained faithful to the ancient sources, however biased as they may seem. After buying this book on a whim, assuming that this novel was simply one more incorrect reinterpration of history and past novels previously read - a blatant reiteration of Plutarch et al. - I now admit that I was was wrong! The extensive attention given to detail and characterizations, the scope and magnitude of this novel are impressive! Margaret George has done extensive research into the time of the fabled Queen of Egypt and brings Cleopatra's world to life, not only referencing from ancient texts but also drawing upon the more modern-day sources. This engaging novel allows the reader to transcend the present and be transported into a fabled world, one which has captivated writers throught the centuries, a story which brings the tale of Cleopatra and her contemporaries into the immediate. In this book, you come to understand why the main characters - Caesar, Cleopatra, Antony and Octavian - held the fate of the known world in their hands. Ms. George takes pain-staking effort to scratch beyond the surface of the Cleopatra-myth and reveal these godly, yet wonderfully all too-human personalities that transcend time: the characters in this novel are complex and multi-dimensional, grand and legendary, even in their most vulnerable moments. Via this window into Cleopatra's world, you experience every nuance of expression; her descriptions appeal to every sense. Within these pages, you share Cleopatra's joys and pain, witness her triumphs and heart-wrenching sorrows.Read more ›
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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.
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Format: Paperback
I enjoy historical fiction not only for the sheer pleasure of reading, but also for the acquisition of knowledge. I am happy to say that all of Margaret George's books succeed on both levels. Reading a book in this genre always spurs me to further reading on the period, and it's always disappointing to find that an author has played fast and loose with historical facts to write a good story. George stays well within acceptable guidelines when creating her story and still manages to write fascinating material.
'The Memoirs of Cleopatra' did read a little more like a romance novel than George's other books, although it's hard to blame her - Cleopatra is a bit more romantic a subject than Henry VIII. And while I did find that I began to be suspicious of the sympathetic treatment 'Memoirs' gave its subject, I don't believe that is a shortcoming, but rather an inevitability of a good biographer identifying with her subject.
I disagree with other reviewers that the book was too long; while Cleopatra's life was short, it was thick with events too important to leave out of her life story. On the whole I found the book entertaining and educational; what more can you ask for?
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By A Customer on October 4, 2003
Format: Paperback
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.
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