Title – Cleopatra: A Life
Author – Stacy Schiff
2010 – Adult – History/Biography
Rating – 4/5
The Premise: Schiff seeks to separate legend and fact to present a clear and comprehensive history and biography of one of the most famous women to ever have lived. From her affairs with Caesar and Antony to her tumultuous family dynamics to her rule over Egypt, Schiff examines Cleopatra’s life, motives and legacy, drawing from historical sources and the few facts we know about her.
The Opening Line: Among the most famous women to have lived, Cleopatra VII ruled Egypt for twenty-two years.
What I Loved: Well, apparently I didn’t know much about Cleopatra at all. I don’t really watch movies, haven’t read the Shakespeare play, like ancient Egypt more than the Egypt of Cleopatra’s time. So my mind was pretty much blown the entire time! For example, pretty sure everyone knew that Cleopatra wasn’t even Egyptian – except me!! What? I didn’t even know that basic fact. So I loved this clear, straightforward picture of Cleopatra’s life…and I learned a ton!
What I Didn’t Love: So much was packed in that it took forever to get through. I spent about a week on this, which is a pretty long time for me. And as much as I tried to keep everything straight, I inevitably forgot who people were or a timeline of events or something.
Final Thoughts: I wanted to finish this for Nonfiction November, but it didn’t happen. Chalk it up to me trying to read everything at once. But I still wanted to finish it, and I’m super glad I did. Overall, it was structured well, easy enough to read and understand, plus Schiff never said that something was fact unless it could be proven. She usually presented scenarios as either likely or impossible, which helped to keep things straight. I feel overall as though I know at least a little bit about Cleopatra’s life now, something that I’ve apparently been lacking.