Author: Stephanie DrayLily of the Nile is far from my normal read, but it ended up fascinating me more than I would've expected.
Release Date: January 4, 2011
Pages: 368 (PB)
Most Appropriate For Ages: ??
Where I Got It: For review from publicist
With her parents dead, the daughter of Cleopatra and Mark Antony is left at the mercy of her Roman captors. Heir to one empire and prisoner of another, Princess Selene must save her brothers and reclaim what is rightfully hers...
In the aftermath of Alexandria's tragic fall, Princess Selene is taken from Egypt, the only home she's ever known. Along with her two surviving brothers, she's put on display as a war trophy in Rome. Selene's captors mock her royalty and drag her through the streets in chains, but on the brink of death, the children are spared as a favor to the emperor's sister, who takes them to live as hostages in the so-called lamentable embassy of royal orphans...
Trapped in a Roman court of intrigue that reviles her heritage and suspects her faith, Selene can't hide the hieroglyphics that carve themselves into her flesh. Nor can she stop the emperor from using her for his own political ends. Faced with a new and ruthless Caesar who is obsessed with having a Cleopatra of his very own, Selene is determined to honor her mother's lost legacy. The magic of Egypt and Isis remain within her. Can she succeed where her mother failed? And what will it cost her in a political game where the only rule is win or die?
Selene is a smart and strong heroine, and she is sure to empower girl readers everywhere. There's no romance in this book, which was an interesting, nice change from YA's overly-used love triangles and mysterious sulky boys.
The book was sometimes a little too easy for me to put down, but that's pretty much my only complaint. There isn't much of a fantasy element. Instead, Lily of the Nile is full of riveting ancient political strategy, as well as religion, and I found myself learning a great deal about ancient Rome and Egypt...without being bored to tears.
Entertaining, educational, and memorable, Lily of the Nile is sure to wow fans of historical fiction, as well as introduce many to the genre and this exciting time in history.
Plot: Occasionally slow, but always interesting.
Characters: Smart and likable.
Writing: Very good.
Ending: Satisfying, and I'll be looking for the sequel.
Kid friendly? Honestly, I'm not sure what age range is recommended for Lily of the Nile. There's a little talk of sex, but it should be safe for teens (though some of the politics may go over some younger teen's heads).
Should I read it? Yes, especially fans of historical fiction.
And now, here's an interview with the author of Lily of the Nile, Stephanie Dray:
What originally fascinated you about history?
In school, history is often taught in a dry fashion involving much memorization of dates and timelines. I didn’t really learn to love history until I noticed the story in history. I wanted to know what these people were like and what they loved. It’s certainly eye-opening to learn about the values of the ancients, some of which are are quite foreign to us. But it’s probably even more shocking to realize how much they are like us. Cleopatra’s daughter suffered great losses and managed to triumph over them. I find that inspiring!
What do you do to get rid of writer's block?
First, I whine a lot. Then I procrastinate. Eventually, I break down and simply give myself permission to write badly. Because that’s the real cause of writer’s block. It’s not that you don’t have any ideas--it’s that you don’t think they’re good enough to write down.
Aside from writing and reading, what other hobbies do you enjoy?
I’m a mother of three cats and one of them loves to learn tricks. So I’ve trained him to sit up, shake paws, give me a high-five and to give me a kiss on the nose. Right now, we’re working on getting him to jump through a hoop but he finds the whole thing a little insulting to his feline dignity.
What books would you recommend to new, teen fans of historical fiction?
A nice comparison to Lily of the Nile might be Michelle Moran’s Cleopatra’s Daughter. I think young readers would enjoy that! Jennifer Donnelly’s Revolution is something teen readers should check out too.
What do you want readers to take away from Lily of the Nile?
Selene’s life was a journey--from spurned prisoner of war to powerful queen. She found a way to triumph over all the tragedies in her life and forge her own path. Selene was a survivor; there were scars that she’d never recover from, but she still found her purpose. I’d like readers to take inspiration from that.
Stephanie Dray is the author of a forthcoming trilogy of historical fiction novels set in the Augustan Age, starting with Lily of the Nile: A Novel of Cleopatra's Daughter. Before she wrote novels, Stephanie was a lawyer, a game designer, and a teacher. Now she uses the transformative power of magic realism to illuminate the stories of women in history and inspire the young women of today. She remains fascinated by all things Roman or Egyptian and has–to the consternation of her devoted husband–collected a house full of cats and ancient artifacts.
She is currently sponsoring the Cleopatra Literary Contest for Young Women, the deadline for which is March 1, 2011, but join her newsletter now for updates and a chance to win a free copy of Lily of the Nile and additional prizes.
Thanks to Stephanie for the interview!