Thursday, September 30, 2010

Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff - and Giveaway Winner!

Title: Cleopatra: A Life
Author: Stacy Schiff
Published: Little, Brown and Company, November, 2010
Where I Got It: Tahleen sent it to me!
Why I Read It: I love pretty covers.


The number one thing that I learned from Cleopatra: A Life was this: I had deceived myself in thinking I knew anything about her before reading this book. Stacy Schiff digs deep into the life of one of the most well-known, yet misunderstood women in history. Most of us know her as the Egyptian queen who had affairs/children with both Caesar and Mark Antony, the two most powerful men of their age. She herself was much, much more than that.

Cleopatra was a fabulously rich woman. In contemporary terms, her net worth would be around $95.8 billion dollars. She was worth more than three Queen Elizabeth IIs. Amazingly, she also lived in a culture were women were greatly empowered. A woman in first century B.C. could choose her own husband, own property, grant their own divorces, operate businesses, and serve as priests. As much as one third of Egypt was controlled by female hands.

There are many other things that stick out to me about Cleopatra's life. The biggest was her incestuous family ties. Her grandparents were uncle and niece, her parents were brother and sister, and Cleopatra herself was married to both of her brothers. I question how there were no physical or mental deformations! Another interesting point pertains to her beauty. Third century A.D. records call her "strikingly exquisite" in appearance, while those of the Middle Ages say she was "famous for nothing but her beauty." Shakespeare raves about her looks. However, her contemporaries, those who actually knew and saw her, say nothing about her beauty. In fact, her appearance was called "not remarkable." Quite different from what most of us have heard about her!

Stacy Schiff wrote an extremely entertaining book full of fun, interesting facts. I loved her sarcastic voice and the humor she injected into the characters. I will say that it seems to drag on forever at the end. The story began to focus too much on Mark Antony and the military, which quickly lost my interest. I skimmed the last 100 pages. That being said, I'd rate it 3.5 stars; the plethora of amazing facts was overshadowed by the fact that I felt I had to force myself to even finish it.

This book hasn't even been published, yet it is already the basis for a movie to be released in 2011, starring Angelina Jolie. You can read more about it here.




OK, a big thank you to everyone who entered my giveaway to win this book - and an even bigger thank you to my followers who made it possible!

The winner is....Allison!

Congratulations! She has 24 hours to respond to my email, if I get no response I will pick another winner. Sorry for the rush, but in order to get it in the mail by Saturday, I need addresses quick. Happy reading and enjoy the book! :)

16 comments:

  1. I gotta admit to loving the cover as well! I"ll probably try to pick it up at some point but it's good to know about the end.

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  3. Kelly, Thank you! I sent you an email, if you didn't get it, I can send you another one!
    Thanks again! Seriously excited about this one!

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  4. Great review. I had higher expectations for this book, it all sounded just too good. :) I love the cover of this book too, it's beautiful. Too bad that the last pages are about Mark Antony and the military! A movie? Seriousley? :)

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  5. I got it Allison! I'll send it either today or tomorrow :)

    I too wonder about this movie...it could be pretty good actually.

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  6. I have an award for you. Congrats! You can pick it up here:
    http://tinyurl.com/2c42fff

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  7. Thanks Kelly. I too wonder about it. Heard they were tapping Angelina Jolie to play Cleopatra.
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0914843/

    I am not 100% sure what I think of that. I see Cleopatra as a beautiful queen, but more of a tactician than we give her credit for. She successfully held off Roman rule for her entire reign.

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  8. Great review, glad you liked this! Don't forget to give credit to Hachette, though—they sent me the ARC free of charge!

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  9. I think Angelina Jolie may be too pretty and mainstream to play Cleopatra....though she certainly does have the presence and personality to play her well.

    Ahh, I meant to ask you who sent you the book Tahleen...I'll make sure to fix it, especially the review for B&B.

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  10. I wondered the same thing. Cleopatra was described as beautiful, but what I find more interesting is her personality. I think that her mental prowess is often overlooked. She held off one of the most powerful empires with her interesting, um, diplomatic skills. She made both men see the power, but knew that without intermarriage and children, her dynasty would collapse.
    And I got it yesterday Kelly! WOW! I peaked in it, and love it already.
    Thanks again!

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  11. She certainly is a fascinating woman. This book made me want to learn much more about her.

    You're welcome Allison, hope you like it!

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