In the twenty-third year of King Ptolemy XII’s reign, ten-year-old Cleopatra learns that her father’s fleet has been spotted outside of Alexandria’s Great Harbor. Too excited to wait in her quarters, she dresses like a servant and sneaks off to the public marketplace. Here she watches as workers prepare the docks for the king’s arrival from Rome.
Commoners grumble about cruel overseers and high taxes, and Cleopatra can see that the people don’t live well. How much of that is her father’s fault? He’s been gone for almost a year on a mission to placate the Roman triumvirate so they will support him as ruler of Egypt. Knowing her father was worried when he left, Cleopatra is eaten up with anticipation.
So begins a fascinating tale, rich in historical detail. In Cleopatra Confesses, author Carolyn Meyer takes the reader on a journey with the royalty of ancient Egypt, presenting their excesses, foibles, and political maneuverings.
Cleopatra is the third of the king’s six children and is considered his favorite. She shares his intelligence and concern over Egypt. And even though she’s young when the story begins, she’s well aware of the murderous threat her older sisters and others represent to both her father’s rule and her own expected succession to the crown.
Meyer wrote Cleopatra’s story in the present tense. I don’t usually even notice present tense in books anymore, but in this instance, it brought an immediacy to the narrative that drew me deeper into Cleopatra’s hopes and fears.
I choose this book because I’d never read fiction set in ancient Egypt. Is it just me, or is there an overabundance of YA books set in Victorian England? Not that those are bad—I was just ready for something different. And Cleopatra Confesses provided royalty, intrigue, and an actual historical character. It was also nice to read something that helped me let go of Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra. By the way, I love the cover!
Please join us on Wednesday for an interview with author Carolyn Meyer and on Friday for a contest to win a copy of Cleopatra Confesses.