10115Only took me, what, two months?  But I finally finished this monster of a book.

At just over 900 pages, The Memoirs of Cleopatra is not a light read.  But for the majority of the pages it is an interesting one.

This is basically her life and times with Egypt and Rome in it’s glory days as written by her own hand.  Her childhood, rise to power, marriages, alliances, love affairs with Cesear and Marc Anthony, as well as her children.

The whole thing was well written and vivid, alas I was only truly immersed within the first half.  The story of her childhood and growing up to be queen, and even her affair with her first love Cesear I was riveted.  But then about the time she took up with Marc Anthony I began to lose interest.  Maybe it’s because I hadn’t challenged myself with a book of this size for some time (if it was like one of the smaller paperbacks I’m used to reading, it would have been twice as thick or chopped into two books) or maybe it’s because the writing turned less personal and more analytical of the military tactics both she and Marc Anthony executed to keep their thrones and their lives.

Either way, at the end of the book I was bawling my eyes out.  It was such a touching and heart wrenching ending, focusing more on the power of love and friendship, the strength of each and the pain when one is lost, it was beautifully done and made me glad to have stuck with it and read it through.

So this is not for the faint of heart.  Memoirs of Cleopatra is a daunting, albeit worthwhile read.

Next up, we go forward in time to one of the most notorious periods of Italian history made more famous by Jeremy Irons, The Borgia Bride by Jean Kalogridis.

200352Vivacious Sancha of Aragon arrives in Rome newly wed to a member of the notorious Borgia dynasty. Surrounded by the city’s opulence and political corruption, she befriends her glamorous and deceitful sister-in-law, Lucrezia, whose jealousy is as legendary as her beauty. Some say Lucrezia has poisoned her rivals, particularly those to whom her handsome brother, Cesare, has given his heart. So when Sancha falls under Cesare’s irresistible spell, she must hide her secret or lose her life. Caught in the Borgias’ sinister web, she summons her courage and uses her cunning to outwit them at their own game. Vividly interweaving historical detail with fiction, The Borgia Bride is a richly compelling tale of conspiracy, sexual intrigue, loyalty, and drama.