When We Were Gods by Colin Falconer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was a great choice of book to read while travelling through Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Turkey - so many places mentioned in the course of Cleopatra's life that I found myself in, sometimes at just the right spot in the book - for instance ancient Antioch where we were the other day - where Marc Antony sent for Cleopatra. I had no idea exactly how much she travelled in the region. A completely fascinating woman who very nearly managed to combine the Roman Empire with her own as co-regent, first with Ceasor then Antony, both of whom she had children with. In terms of factual content the author claims to have tried to get as close to the historical facts as he could. To a certain extent this seems plausible and her life as its known is fleshed out very well. There were a number of gratuitous sex scenes and filthy one liners that had me rolling about laughing thinking I cant believe he put that in - something along the lines of Cleopatra commenting that Antony appeared to have 'raised an obelisk' in her honour being one memorable classic. I would tend to side with one of the back cover reviewers describing the book as 'sensual and imaginative' emphasis on the imaginative - but definately a very entertaining novel.
Interestingly the author also states that he wanted to get away from the Liz Taylor / Richard Burton hollywood picture - and you would think from the cover art of a very Greek looking Queen that this would be the case, but in fact to me his characters were exactly as played by Taylor, Burton and a camp Roddy Macdowel and I have a new found appreciation of the accuracy of a certain ammount of the plot line of the movie now - all except the triumphal entrance to rome seated on the Sphinx which didnt appear to take place in quite that manner.
If your after a bit of history based around the life of a fascinating historical character, with a healthy dose of imagination and some hilarious gratuitous smut this could be the one for you.
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