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Cleopatra VII Philopator, the legendary Queen of Egypt, has captivated historians and storytellers for centuries. Her story is one of power, love, and tragedy, set against a backdrop of political turmoil and intrigue. In Stacy Schiff’s “Cleopatra: A Life” audiobook, this iconic figure’s story comes to life once again through meticulous research and vivid storytelling.

In this audiobook review, we will explore the world of Cleopatra as portrayed in Schiff’s work. From the plot and character development to historical accuracy and narration, we will delve into the various aspects that make this audiobook a must-listen for history enthusiasts and fans of storytelling alike.

Key Takeaways:

  • Stacy Schiff’s “Cleopatra: A Life” is a compelling audiobook that brings the story of Cleopatra VII Philopator to life.
  • The audiobook offers a comprehensive plot summary and explores the historical accuracy of Cleopatra’s story.
  • The audiobook’s narration and writing style are engaging and thought-provoking, providing an immersive listening experience.
  • “Cleopatra: A Life” also examines the broader historical context and significance of Cleopatra’s story.
  • The audiobook has received critical acclaim and offers a fresh perspective on this legendary figure.

Introduction to Cleopatra: A Life

Written by celebrated historian Stacy Schiff, “Cleopatra: A Life” is a mesmerizing audiobook that delves deep into one of history’s most enigmatic figures. The audiobook provides a comprehensive account of Cleopatra’s life, shedding light on her political and personal struggles, her alliances and triumphs, and the legendary allure that continues to captivate us today.

Stacy Schiff is a renowned author and historian known for her rigorous research and eloquent prose. In “Cleopatra: A Life,” she does not disappoint, providing readers with a vivid portrayal of Cleopatra’s world and the people who inhabited it. The book is a must-read for anyone interested in ancient history, political intrigue, or strong and complex female figures.

In this audiobook review, we will provide a detailed analysis of “Cleopatra: A Life,” evaluating its plot, character development, writing style, and historical accuracy. We will also examine the narration and audio experience of the audiobook and assess its broader significance in contemporary literature.

Plot Summary

“Cleopatra: A Life” audiobook by Stacy Schiff is a fascinating historical account of the life and reign of one of the world’s most enigmatic figures. The audiobook explores the tumultuous and captivating life of Cleopatra, the last pharaoh of ancient Egypt.

The story begins in the early years of Cleopatra’s life, exploring her family background and early political conflicts. The narrative then follows her journey to becoming the ruler of Egypt, her relationships with Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, and the events that led to her eventual downfall.

Throughout the audiobook, Schiff highlights the significant political and cultural events of the time, giving insight into the complexities of ancient society. The themes of power, love, and betrayal are intricately woven into the narrative, making for a gripping and emotional reading experience.

Some of the key events and themes explored in the book include Cleopatra’s early struggles to reclaim her throne, her strategic alliances with Roman leaders, and the subsequent wars that ensued. The audiobook also delves into the mythos of Cleopatra and how she has been portrayed in literature and pop culture.

Overall, “Cleopatra: A Life” audiobook beautifully captures the drama and intrigue of ancient Egypt while providing a comprehensive and engaging narrative that is sure to captivate listeners.

Historical Accuracy and Research

Stacy Schiff’s “Cleopatra: A Life” audiobook offers readers a meticulous reconstruction of the historical events surrounding Cleopatra’s life and reign. Schiff’s research is impressive, with extensive use of primary sources and modern works on Cleopatra, such as Duane Roller’s “Cleopatra: A Biography” and Michel Chauveau’s “Cleopatra: Beyond the Myth.”

Although historical accuracy is a crucial element of any historical work, it can be challenging to achieve it, given the lack of sources and the influence of cultural and political bias. However, Schiff carefully weighs conflicting evidence and presents a balanced narrative that avoids oversimplification and speculation.

“Schiff’s unconventional approach to Cleopatra’s story…is well-served by her experience as both a journalist and a Pulitzer Prize-winning author. Her exhaustive research helps to demystify this legendary Egyptian queen while still accounting for her power and influence.”

The audiobook provides a thorough and immersive experience of Cleopatra’s era, with vivid descriptions of the political climate, social customs, and religious practices. The details are meticulously researched, with no major historical inaccuracies or anachronisms. The in-depth investigation is particularly noticeable in the sections on Cleopatra’s relationships with Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, which are a blend of historical fact, speculation, and interpretation.

The amount of effort put into the research is also evident in the extensive bibliography and historical notes included in the book, providing readers with additional resources to further expand their understanding of the historical period.

Historical Accuracy Table

Aspect Rating (1-5)
Use of primary sources 5
Use of modern works 4
Balance of conflicting evidence 5
Avoidance of oversimplification 5
Avoidance of anachronisms 5

Writing Style and Narrative Voice

Stacy Schiff’s writing style in “Cleopatra: A Life” is as engrossing as the book’s subject matter. Her writing is vivid, lush, and exquisitely detailed, transporting readers to the ancient world of Cleopatra and her contemporaries. Schiff’s narrative voice is authoritative and knowledgeable, a reflection of the extensive research she conducted for the book.

She deftly weaves together historical information, primary sources, and imaginative elements, creating a narrative that is both engaging and informative. The result is a book that is not only a fascinating account of Cleopatra’s life but also a testament to Schiff’s skill as a writer.

Character Development

In “Cleopatra: A Life” audiobook, Schiff vividly portrays the historical figures, including Cleopatra, Julius Caesar, and Mark Antony. By providing insight into their personal lives, Schiff makes them relatable to the audience, ultimately bringing them to life. Schiff’s extensive research and attention to detail are evident in her depiction of Cleopatra, emphasizing her intelligence, wit, and political astuteness. Her complex character is further highlighted as the audiobook progresses, showcasing her vulnerabilities and emotional depth.

Similarly, Antony’s character development is nuanced, highlighting his strengths and weaknesses, making him feel like a fully realized character rather than a historical figure. The interactions between Cleopatra and Antony provide an emotional core to the audiobook.

“Schiff brings her characters to life with striking detail, making them relatable to the audience. Her nuanced portrayal of Cleopatra and Antony’s complex characters provides an emotional core that captures the listener’s attention.” – Listener Review

Historical Context and Significance

To grasp the essence of “Cleopatra: A Life,” it’s imperative to understand her historical background and the significance of her story. Cleopatra VII Philopator, the last Egyptian pharaoh, lived during the final years of the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt. Her reign was marked by political turmoil, civil war, and her relationships with Julius Caesar and Mark Antony.

Cleopatra’s rule saw several attempts by her predecessors, including her father, to establish an independent Egyptian state from the dominant Roman Empire. Her reign marked the end of the Ptolemaic dynasty and the beginning of the Roman Empire’s acquisition of Egypt, which would last for over 700 years.

Stacy Schiff’s “Cleopatra: A Life” portrays Cleopatra’s life and the final days of the Ptolemaic Kingdom in a compelling manner. The author provides insights into Cleopatra’s ambitions, struggles, and accomplishments while illuminating the historical context in which she lived.

“Schiff is a master storyteller, weaving together historical facts and imagined conversations to create a mesmerizing account of Cleopatra’s life.” – The New York Times

By examining Cleopatra’s story, readers can gain a better understanding of the historical, political, and social context of ancient Egypt. The book’s significance lies not only in shedding light on one of history’s most enigmatic figures but also in its portrayal of the events and people surrounding her reign.

Narration and Audio Experience

When it comes to audiobooks, the narration and audio experience can make or break the entire listening experience. Fortunately, “Cleopatra: A Life” by Stacy Schiff delivers a captivating and engaging performance that enhances the historical account.

The audiobook is narrated by acclaimed actor Robin Miles, whose rich, commanding voice brings the characters to life. Miles’ expert narration style is easy to follow and adds to the overall immersion of the book, making it a must-listen for fans of historical non-fiction.

The audio experience of “Cleopatra: A Life” is beautifully crafted, with crystal-clear sound quality that ensures every detail comes through loud and clear. Whether you’re listening on headphones or in your car, the audio quality enhances the listening experience, making it easy to get lost in the story.

All in all, the narration and audio experience of “Cleopatra: A Life” is exceptional, making it a must-listen for any history buff or fan of captivating audiobooks.

Reception and Criticism

Since its release, “Cleopatra: A Life” by Stacy Schiff has garnered widespread acclaim and attention from both readers and critics alike.

Publication Review
The New Yorker

“Schiff writes about Cleopatra with authority and wit”

The New York Times

“Elegant and entertaining”

The Guardian

“A richly compelling biography”

The audiobook version of “Cleopatra: A Life” has also received praise for its narration, with many listeners highlighting the engaging and lively delivery that brings the story to life.

However, some critics have noted the book’s dense subject matter and extensive use of footnotes, which can occasionally disrupt the flow of the narrative. Additionally, due to the scarcity of historical records about Cleopatra’s life, some critics have raised questions about the accuracy of certain parts of the book.

Reception and Criticism

Despite any potential criticism, “Cleopatra: A Life” remains an enthralling and definitive historical account of one of the most fascinating figures in history.


In conclusion, “Cleopatra: A Life” by Stacy Schiff is a masterful historical account that brings Cleopatra’s story to life. Through meticulous research and engaging writing style, Schiff provides a fascinating glimpse into the life and times of one of history’s most iconic figures.

The plot summary highlights the key events and themes explored in the book, and the historical accuracy and research analysis confirm the depth of research involved. The writing style and narrative voice are engaging and effective, bringing the characters to life, and the historical context and significance provide a broader understanding of the book’s themes.

The audiobook’s narration and audio experience enhance the story, adding another dimension to the reading experience. While the book has received critical acclaim, there are some valid criticisms to consider, such as the occasional slow pacing.

Overall, “Cleopatra: A Life” is highly recommended for anyone interested in history and biographies. It’s an excellent audiobook for those seeking a captivating and informative reading experience and worth adding to any bookshelf or audio library.


What is "Cleopatra: A Life" by Stacy Schiff?

“Cleopatra: A Life” is a captivating historical account of Cleopatra’s life written by Stacy Schiff. It offers a detailed and engaging portrayal of the legendary Egyptian queen.

What is the plot summary of "Cleopatra: A Life"?

The audiobook “Cleopatra: A Life” follows the life of Cleopatra, tracing her rise to power, relationships with Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, and her ultimate downfall. It explores the complex political landscape of ancient Egypt and the Roman Empire.

Is "Cleopatra: A Life" historically accurate?

Yes, “Cleopatra: A Life” is known for its historical accuracy. Stacy Schiff conducted extensive research to provide an authentic and thorough account of Cleopatra’s life and the historical context in which she lived.

How is the writing style and narrative voice in "Cleopatra: A Life"?

Stacy Schiff’s writing style in “Cleopatra: A Life” is engaging and immersive. Her narrative voice brings the story to life, making it accessible and compelling for readers.

Does "Cleopatra: A Life" offer detailed character development?

Yes, “Cleopatra: A Life” delves into the character development of Cleopatra and other historical figures. Schiff provides insights into their motivations, personalities, and the impact they had on the events of the time.

How does "Cleopatra: A Life" explore the historical context and significance?

“Cleopatra: A Life” provides a comprehensive understanding of the historical context in which Cleopatra lived. It explores the political and cultural landscape of ancient Egypt, as well as the broader significance of Cleopatra’s story in history.

What is the narration and audio experience like in "Cleopatra: A Life"?

The narration in “Cleopatra: A Life” enhances the audio experience, immersing listeners in the story. The audiobook’s production quality ensures a captivating and engaging listening experience.

How has "Cleopatra: A Life" been received by readers and critics?

“Cleopatra: A Life” has received positive reviews from readers and critics alike. It has been praised for its meticulous research, engrossing narrative, and its ability to bring Cleopatra’s story to life.

Are there any criticisms of "Cleopatra: A Life"?

While “Cleopatra: A Life” has been well-received, some critics have mentioned potential shortcomings. These criticisms often revolve around the level of detail and analysis provided, as well as personal preferences in writing style.

Can you provide a recommendation for "Cleopatra: A Life"?

“Cleopatra: A Life” is highly recommended for history enthusiasts and those interested in the life and politics of ancient Egypt. It offers a fascinating and well-researched account of Cleopatra’s life, making it a compelling read for anyone intrigued by this historical figure.

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