25 August 2011

Thursday Tea: Cleopatra's Moon by Vicky Alvear Shecter

The Book: I know I usually review or spotlight an audiobook for Thursday Tea, but this week I want to talk about a terrific book I read in print: Cleopatra's Moon by Vicky Alvear Shecter. This is historical fiction geared to a young-adult audience, but it has broad appeal to adults.

I was especially excited to read this novel for a couple of reasons. First, the story is told from the view point of Cleopatra Selene, the daughter of Cleopatra VII and Marc Antony (called Marcus Antonius in this book). Second, I read and enjoyed Stacy Schiff's Cleopatra (nonfiction) last year and wanted to know more about her surviving children.

Shecter delivers a well-told story that begins by summarizing some key moments in the young Cleopatra Selene's life. The heart of the novel, however, is in what happens after the death of Cleopatra Selene's parents: her move to Rome and her eventual marriage to an African named Juba. The historic details are accurate, and Shecter creates a believable account of Cleopatra Selene's life from a naive young princess to the eve of her marriage.

One of the things I really loved about the novel were the contrasts between cultures both within Egypt (class and religious differences, for example) and between Egypt and Rome. Cleopatra Selene had to negotiate these worlds from her position as a woman and her changing status from princess to captive.

Youth and adults alike will appreciate the extras to the novel: an annotated cast of characters at the beginning and, at the end, an author's note about Cleopatra Selene's marriage and a section that helps sort out the facts from fiction. Cleopatra's Moon is an accessible, easy-to-read novel for readers of any age.

The Tea: Oh thank the gods (the Romans had a lot of them) that the days and evenings have finally cooled off. I'm back to afternoon hot tea! The first tea I turned to this season was Adagio's Earl Grey Bravo. This is one of my staples--just right for a little pick-me-up. Here's how the company describes it, and I couldn't agree more: "The perfect afternoon tea: zesty and exhilarating fresh citrus aroma, slightly dry to the nose, with a rounded and balanced orange rind flavor to match the tang of the Ceylon. Pleasantly dry finish with lingering citrus sweetness."

The Assessment: As far as I can tell, Romans did not drink tea. On the other hand, Egypt had ties and contact with India--a fact I knew about and one that is mentioned in Cleopatra's Moon--so perhaps young Cleopatra Selene did have tea when she was a child, and maybe she even liked a blend that was similar to Earl Grey. Regardless, I definitely enjoyed my tea while reading this engaging novel.

What About You? What are you drinking these days? Reading anything good this week?

Cleopatra's Moon at Powell's
Cleopatra's Moon at Book Depository
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Thursday Tea was the brainchild of Anastasia at Birdbrain(ed) Book Blog.

Published by Scholastic / Arthur A. Levine Books, 2011
ISBN-13: 9780545221306
Source: Review (see review policy).
Rating: B+

Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)
FTC: I buy all teas myself, I am not a tea reviewer.


Julie P. 8/25/11, 6:59 AM  

That's too funny. I wanted this one in print but our library doesn't have it. Soooo I got the audio version instead.

Beth Hoffman 8/25/11, 8:26 AM  

It's lovely and cool here, and I'm thinking of brewing some organic Earl Grey this morning.

As for what I'm reading ... my manuscript. LOL! But I hope to calm things down and pick up a book very soon.

Zibilee 8/25/11, 8:41 AM  

I am so glad that it's tea day again, as I have been wanting to tell you about two new and delicious teas that I found last week. They are both made by Stash, and one is a chocolate hazelnut that tastes just like hot chocolate when you add a little cream. The other is a double bergamot Earl Grey, and it is also wonderful. Hopefully you can find these in your area, as they are such luscious teas!

The book also sounds great, and like something that I might like. I haven't read Shiff's book yet, but I do have a copy and am anxious to get started with it. I had been working under the misapprehension that it was a work of fiction, but I know better now!

Barbara 8/25/11, 10:02 AM  

I think I concentrate on American history too much. I never even thought of Cleopatra having children! I do have the book on my wish list though.

I like the description of the tea; it sounds like a description of a wine. You are making me curious about tea so I'm planning to get a little adventurous with it this fall.

Heather 8/25/11, 10:53 AM  

I have long been fascinated by Egypt, Cleopatra, and the struggle with Rome. This sounds like a fantastic book. Thanks for calling it to my attention!

And thanks for reminding me of the Tomorrow Series in audio! I have a feeling I'll be getting my hands on those soon. I really want to read the whole series.

Sandy Nawrot 8/25/11, 12:05 PM  

I never did pick up Cleopatra because a few people said it was dense and hard to get through. This one might just be my speed! As far as tea, I'm still on the cold stuff. It is just so damn hot still in FL. Maybe October or November?

Violet 8/25/11, 12:23 PM  

Just the name of the book makes me want to read it.

I'm very particular about my tea, I don't like trying new flavors. That said I do like Chocolate flavored tea.

bermudaonion 8/25/11, 2:20 PM  

I struggled with Cleopatra last year and think this would probably be more on my level.

Pam (@iwriteinbooks) 8/25/11, 2:33 PM  

Lovely! I am drinking as much water as is humanly possible, right now, and I’ve been supplementing that heavenly water taste (that admittedly gets old after the first few gallons) with Raspberry Lemonade Crystal Light packets. I’m not sure how they really match to Matthew Norman’s Domestic Violets but for right now, the two seem to be working well.

Audra 8/25/11, 3:09 PM  

I loved Stephanie Dray's take on Cleopatra's daughter (Lily of the Nile, I believe) so I'm not sure I'm ready for another version -- but I've seen some very good buzz about this one!

Col (Col Reads) 8/25/11, 3:48 PM  

I also enjoyed Cleopatra, and I think I'd definitely enjoy this as well! And Earl Grey is my favorite tea. So I definitely appreciated this post!

Kailana 8/27/11, 9:51 AM  

This book sounds good. I will have to get around to reading it at some point. There is just not enough hours in the day!

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