Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers. ~Charles W. Eliot

Monday, May 9, 2011

All hail the queen!

As a mother of daughters, I've always considered it important to show my girls that strength and warmth are not mutually exclusive. I think I'd probably consider this an important message to convey to boys too but with girls, it's been somewhat of a mission. Jeff and I were committed to instilling all possibilities and many layers in our children before they were ever born. In fact, our oldest daughter was named, in part, after a strong and beautiful character named Eliane played by Catherine Deneuve in the film Indochine - a film we had seen years before I was pregnant, featuring a character we'll never forget. We wanted our Eliane to be similarly strong and equally soft. Those of you who know our Elie will surely agree that she is a breathtaking blend.

Like many women, I have always been drawn to strong female characters in real life as well as in books and movies. I am currently half way through a book with a strong female character that I am absolutely loving. It's Vicky Alvear Shecter's Cleopatra's Moon, which will be published in August of this year. Our daughter Elie, looking over my shoulder moments ago, objected to my discussing a book that's not yet available but this one is so good, you should put it on your list and make sure you pick it up as soon as it's available.

The story of Cleopatra and Mark Antony is familiar to many but this new twist focuses on their daughter Cleopatra Selene. It's historical fiction with a hefty dose of historical reality. One review I read compared it to the Luxe series and I don't particularly care for that comparison. In fact, comparisons like that and the current cover concern me because they seem to suggest this is a girl book and that really ought not be the case. Fans of the Percy Jackson series should read this. The respect paid to culture, beliefs and the role of the gods will be familiar to them but the story is completely new, incredibly exciting, very well written and totally captivating. This is a YA book recommended for kids 13 and up and it's compelling no matter what your age. I'm enjoying this book so much that I'm planning to follow it up with Stacy Schiff's Cleopatra: A Life because I'm finding myself hooked on the ancient world and these complex and colorful characters and I want to know more. I'm also a sucker for pairing an adult book with a children's/young adult book and this pairing is too good to pass up!

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