Book Review

by Karen Essex

Genre: Historical Romance, Historical Fiction
Setting: Roman Egypt

2002 Best Historical Biographical Novel Nominee

RT Rating

Whether you know about Kleopatra from history books or the Richard Burton/ Elizabeth
Taylor epic, you'll find a new
twist on the familiar in these fascinating and intriguing novels. (Ms. Essex spells
Kleopatra with a "K" because of the queen's ties to the Greek culture.)

Essex sketches Kleopatra's childhood and rise to power, as she accompanies
her weak father into exile in Rome, and later serves as co-regent with him. Upon
his death, she marries her half-brother, but eventually she must fight against
him and his advisors by raising an army with her lover. At the end of KLEOPATRA,
is 22—and awaiting Julius Caesar.

PHARAOH starts with the famous rolled-in-a-rug scene in front of the great Caesar.
As part two unfolds, Kleopatra's lust for power and intrigue make her the
perfect partner for him. She is not beyond using sex, spies or intrigues to gain
political power. After Caesar's death, she allies herself with Marc Antony
with whom she has
a powerful and heated love.

This extremely well researched biography leans toward a more political and
feminist portrait. Kleopatra is not just a sensual woman, but a woman drawn to
politics and powerful men like a bee to honey. The attention to historical detail
with everything from feasts to rituals to rules of state, along with a fast-paced
and colorful picture of the key players, provides a strong read for those who
enjoy their
politics threaded with romance. SENSUAL (Dec., 400 pp., $24.95)

Reviewed By: Kathe Robin

Publisher: Warner

Published: December 2002

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