Thursday, November 03, 2011

5. CLEOPATRA: A LIFE ~ Stacy Schiff

No, she did not dissolve a pearl in wine,
but, damn, what a great story!
Cleopatra: A Life

Do you know what I hate? Reading a fantastic book with nothing to show for it. While I adore my nook and dig the library system, my husband build a custom library for me. I can sit and look at my books in the winter sun with huge, fluffy white dogs purring and snoring around me, candles lit to mask their odorous farts.

It is my heaven, referring back to The Lovely Bones.

However, the book is on sale, so this is one of my must-buys of the year: Cleopatra: A Life.

Why? Did you think you knew everything about her from Elizabeth Taylor's movie? Or, *shudder*, Shakespeare? From this book alone, you will discover that Shakespeare cribbed most of his words from historians who wrote about Cleopatra 200 years after she died.

And, what about the infamous asp that killed her? I will let you have even more surprises, but there are far too many legends dispelled in this wonderful historical biopic.

Even if you do not have any interest in Cleopatra or are tired of her appeal, it is important to read to understand why people were so ready for the coming of a savior (Jesus Christ) during these tumultous Roman civil wars. It is a time when people were questioned for not being Jewish enough, as Cleopatra was not Egyptian, but Greek. And the roles (i.e., "expected roles") of the Roman women are remarkably similar to Tea Party statements today.

Although the prose is repetitive at times, it is so thick with details, it has to be. Not everyone gets to read a book cover to cover in a few sittings. Fanatic in her meticulous historical comparisons and specificity, Schiff is someone I will refer to in future writing.

4.5 out of 5.0 Cleopatras.

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