Someone once chuckled while telling me they could not picture me watching a documentary. I took offense to this comment. I’ve seen Disney’s “African Cats”. I’ve seen “March of the Penguins”. Or was it “Happy Feet”? Does “Never Say Never” count? I’ve even eaten a Quarter Pounder with Cheese Meal while watching “Super Size Me”. Beat that. But it wasn’t until I started to read my first Biography novel that I might just have to swallow my pride, along with those non-decomposing frites, and agree with that hurtful joker. I’ve always been secretly fascinated by powerful women of long ago so when I saw Stacy Schiff’s “Cleopatra” on the Must Read shelf, I thought “Well who am I to disobey a Librarian.” Except that who I am is someone who does not find reading fun when every second sentence you’re flipping between the inside cover to that sand colored, hand-drawn map of countries and regions that don’t exist anymore, and the back cover genealogical chart to jog your memory of whether it was her aunt Berenice, her sister Berenice, or her daughter Berenice who killed her own husband/brother/father. Ex. Haus. Ting.
Ms. Schiff saw a need to uncover the truth about this Queen of the Nile as there’s not a lot known about her and because of this she gets a bad rep from Shakespeare and Shaw’s colorful imaginations turned historical feats of literature. This intriguing young girl managed to man handle (if you know what I’m saying) two of the most prominent and feared Romans of her day; Julius Caesar and Mark Antony. With this kind of name-dropping you would think fact would be as entertaining as fiction. Not so. Give me the Elizabeth Taylor version any day. Or a re-make with J-Lo as Cle-o. (Don’t even try to tell me you didn’t think of her when I mentioned Mark Antony.)
This blog post is short lived, not unlike my patience with this book. I don’t make a habit of not finishing books I’ve started but the fact is, at this rate, you, my faithful readers, could build a pyramid in the time it would take me to read this cover to cover (quite literally) and then write basically what I’ve said above stretched across another 2-3 paragraphs. There may have even been a map. See? Ex. Haus. Ting.