Where have I been? Reading!
I recently finished reading Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff. I bought it during Boxing Week at Chapters but only started it about a month ago. Although I found Cleopatra’s story and Schiff’s approach to her life very interesting, it was difficult for me to really get into because I knew I wasn’t absorbing all that I could.
There was a brief time in my teenage years when I wanted to become an Egyptologist, specifically Evy the librarian from The Mummy. Well, I became a librarian but I have yet to go to Egypt (and probably won’t anytime soon, considering the current issues in Cairo right now). I really wanted to read this book knowing the history and geography of ancient Egypt, but I’ve forgotten a lot of that history.
Even so, I think Schiff did a very good job of making Cleopatra’s story accessible. I most enjoyed reading about how we have made her into a pop icon today, and yet we know next to nothing about her personality, and nothing at all about her personal thoughts and opinions. Shakespeare, when he wrote about Cleopatra, was kind of writing fanfiction. We don’t have a lot to go on when it comes to studying this woman.
I would have liked to read more about the what-ifs; it seemed like this book was based more on the idea of “Cleopatra was probably…” rather than “What if Cleopatra…?” It must be fascinating to study a person we know so little about, and yet is a recognized icon around the world.