Original Year of Publication: 1997
Hardback Page Count: 964
Genre: Historical Fiction
Summary: Cleopatra, the doomed Egyptian queen, is known throughout the world as a temptress, seducing two of the most powerful men to ever live: Julius Caesar, and Marc Antony. Brought to life by George's writing, it's now she who tells her story. From her earliest memories, to her dying breaths, all is told through ten "scrolls", carefully entrusted to her faithful--sarcastic--physician and childhood friend, Olympos. The story we all know is told now from an entirely new light: not through the victor, Octavian's, but through the eyes of Cleopatra herself.
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Four and a Half out of Five Stars: Definitely a recommendation to any historical fiction lover, a must-read for anybody interested in Cleopatra, Caesar, or Marc Antony. I would even say that people who aren't that into historical fiction would like it, if it weren't for the occasional dry spells and sheer length of the book--a length which I, personally, found necessary. Each of Cleopatra's famous relationships is portrayed as a very careful blend of political alliance and passion--and that makes sense, once you read about it. Why wouldn't powerful people be drawn to each other? Margaret George handles the question, never overly romanticizing the truth, and adding even more intrigue where it was never lacking. You know the ending of this story, but instead of melodramatic, it is tragic, and George makes one read as if it's all up in the air. The characters are gripping, the story's reach, and the descriptions are lavish. You feel as if you're watching an epic period piece rather than reading a massive book.
Movie Versus Book: Yep, Memoirs was made into a movie, albeit a TV miniseries. I haven't seen it, but if you have, I can tell you right now that it is nothing next to the book. This should not have been a TV movie; it deserves the big screen. And yes, the movie did commit the history-heresy of cutting off at least one of Antony and Cleopatra's kids. (The history fan in me is screaming bloody murder.)
Also by this Author: The Autobiography of Henry VIII (not recommended), Mary Queen of Scotland and the Isles (not recommended), Helen of Troy (RECOMMENDED), Mary, Called Magdalene (haven't read it).
Similar Books: Antony and Cleopatra by Colleen McCullough (have not read it).
Up Next: I, Elizabeth by Rosalind Miles