The only way to survive her dynasty is to rule it Abandoned by her beloved older sister Cleopatra and an indifferent father, Arsinoe, a young Egyptian princess, must fight for survival in the bloodthirsty royal court after her half-sister Berenice seizes power. But despite using her quick-wits to win Berenice's favour, Arsinoe struggles to establish herself in a uncertain new world, one that carries her from the conspiratorial dangers of the palace, to the streets of war-torn Alexandria. Meanwhile, her other sister, the usurper Berenice, has her own demons to confront - her cruel, flagging mother, a pair of fickle husbands, and the ever-present threat that her father will return from exile-as she fights to hold the throne as the first queen of Egypt in a thousand years. Perfect for historical fiction fans who loved discovering The Other Boleyn Girl, Cleopatra's Shadows reimagines Cleopatra's rise to power through the eyes of her forgotten younger sister, Arsinoe.
Evocative, immersive and engrossing. These characters lived and breathed their lives beyond the page and I could feel them in the room with me. The historical setting was excellent too and an integral part of the story. As a story of women each vibrant in her own way, it was also a case of damned if you did and damned if you didn't, but I loved seeing how they worked through their circumstances. The author conveyed a real sense of the knife-edge on which they lived. I truly loved it. Elizabeth Chadwick 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
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.