I am reading Vicky Shecter's book called Cleopatra's Moon which is about the children of Cleopatra and Mark Antony who were sent to Rome following the death of their parents. In reading this story, the deaths of both Mark Antony and Cleopatra remind me of Romeo and Juliet. Vicky does include at the end of the novel some information about the historical version of the lot of these children so that one can tell the difference between fact and fiction.
In that respect, I am impressed with Vicky's imagination and ability to spin a story about these children that makes the reader want to know more about each of them. Unfortunately, little is actually known about them historically so that one can only congratulate Vicky for her vivid imagination in creating possible scenarios. I enjoy reading the tale from this angle as she creates some pretty fascinating and plausible conflicts.
I am intrigued by her descriptions of the Egyptian lifestyle versus the Roman lifestyle in which we gain some insights into the type of propaganda that the Romans used to create enmity and hostility against Cleopatra. The daughter's memories of her mother are poignant to consider how royalty always seemed to suffer in years gone by. To be born into a royal family promised not only luxury and power but also fear and death to so many.
I am an avid reader of many books. For a time, I was always partial to mystery books for the simple fact of trying to solve the mystery along with the detective. This came from reading far too many Agatha Christie novels where the reader is always matching wits with the writer so that I always tried to figure out the culprit long before the writer finally revealed it. It is a game that way that many mystery writers like to use. Both Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie likes to place clues to both mislead and to develop the final conclusion. That is an art in itself.
Historical fiction is fascinating if one is interested in the characters of real life history at all. Most of the time, the authors who write historical fiction twist and turn the story lines to be more fiction than actual fact so that the history itself is irrelevant to the story. A few like to follow history as closely as possible to make it appear the way that that author seems to think the characters would have behaved or thought. Again, one must be careful to note that despite the character being a real personality, the story itself is only the author's vivid imagination which probably is very different from the real facts.
In the case of Cleopatra's Moon, one can only imagine how the children felt when they were taken to Rome so abruptly to live with Octavius. There is no written record to verify on which ship they were transported from Alexandria to Rome. I give Vicky a lot of credit for thinking about these young children to write an entire novel about their experiences so that we can appreciate the sorrowful plight that they suffered. Were they handled with kid gloves or were they abused and mistreated? We know that Caesar had been assassinated through fear of his gaining too much power and that the Roman soldiers taunted Jesus Christ for his being a King of the Jews, so it is very likely that the Roman sailors probably showed great disdain and contempt for the young royal children of Egypt as well. One can only wonder.
The important lesson I am learning from Vicky is the use of good versus evil in this story. She creates a credible story of opposing forces with enough conflicts to maintain a fast pace in the telling of the story. I am realizing at how difficult it is for me to create conflicts employing evil sins versus good virtues. I had had difficulty with that when writing a mystery murder story...I could not think like a murderer enough to develop a murderer. In my other attempts at creating a plot, I have too often omitted evil characters when I realize that i must employ a few. Some are there historically but I have yet to fully develop those characters. I think about my own storyline when reading hers. She has actually done me a favor through her research and her creativity because I can see where I need to flesh out my own characters more fully than I have.
It intrigues and fascinates me that Vicky is as interested in Rome and Greece as I have been. Cleopatra is probably one of the most awesome women in world history simply because she is linked with both Julius Caesar and Mark Antony. A very young girl who has snared two of the most powerful Roman soldiers in Rome's history is without doubt a woman of unique talents and power. She has caught the imagination of many a historian and author, and so it is fascinating to see her through her daughter's eyes.
(to be continued).