The author of CLEOPATRA'S SHADOWS continues her reimagining of Cleopatra's rise to power through the eyes of her forgotten younger sister, Arsinoe.
It's the dawning of a new era for Alexandria and Cleopatra and her younger brother, Ptolemy are established on the throne. Long overlooked by his father in favor of his beguiling sister, eleven-year-old Ptolemy is desperate to assert himself as a man and as a king. But he and his advisors are no match for Queen Cleopatra, who's quick to establish her primacy throughout the land, from Alexandria to Upper Egypt.
When, a year later, Cleopatra alienates Rome's remaining legions and flees the palace, Ptolemy finally gets his first taste of power, though not without its complications: Cleopatra has joined forces with their sister Arsinoe in Egypt, and Ptolemy must prepare to meet their army head-on and prove his ruthlessness to Caesar. Despite mounting doubts about where her sister's loyalties lie, Arsinoe has remained faithful to her. But when news comes that Cleopatra has manipulated Caesar to regain the throne and embraced Rome's dominance, Arsinoe is torn between her warring siblings and sensing her own nascent hunger to lead rising within.
Arsinoe must choose whether it will be her dear sister or brother she irrevocably betrays . . . and make a decision that will determine the fate of a kingdom, and all the future of history.
Magnificent... The vivacity, the verve, the sense of bone deep truth of the writing - all are superb. Some writers seem destined to unearth the truth of a time and a place and a set of people: Mary Renault and Alexander, Hilary Mantel and Thomas Cromwell and now Emily Holleman and the last generation of Ptolemies. There's a freshness to the prose that is truly captivating, and a dynamism to the narrative that gives life to the people whose names are otherwise a footnote in history. - Manda Scott on Cleopatra's Shadows
Cleopatra is a minor character in this novel, with Holleman telling the story from the points of view of Bernice and Arsinoe. This produces an engaging story of family dynamics, trust and politics, as both sisters try to survive in the new world. An excellent debut from Holleman about two sisters often forgotten by history. - Sydney Morning Herald on Cleopatra's Shadows
Emily Holleman became fascinated with Cleopatra's younger sister Arsinoe on a 2011 trip to Egypt and has been researching and writing about the Ptolemies ever since. A graduate of Yale University, Holleman spent several years as an editor for Salon.com-a job she left to follow Arsinoe and her quest for the throne of Alexandria. She lives and works in Brooklyn and is, unsurprisingly, also a younger sister.