Enjoy this title right now, plus millions more, with a free trial

Free for 30 days, then $9.99/month. Cancel anytime.

Selene of Alexandria

Selene of Alexandria

Written by Faith L. Justice

Narrated by Keira Grace


Selene of Alexandria

Written by Faith L. Justice

Narrated by Keira Grace

ratings:
4/5 (13 ratings)
Length:
14 hours
Released:
Mar 1, 2020
ISBN:
9780917053184
Format:
Audiobook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook

Description

10th Anniversary Edition

This story of ambition, love, and political intrigue brings to life colorful characters and an exotic time and place. In A.D. 412 Alexandria, against the backdrop of a city torn by religious and political strife, Selene struggles to achieve her dream of becoming a physician—an unlikely goal for an upper class girl. Hypatia, the famed Lady Philosopher of Alexandria and the Prefect Orestes offer their patronage and protection. But will it be enough to save Selene from murderous riots, the machinations of a charismatic bishop and—most dangerous of all—her own impulsive nature?

"Fans of Gillian Bradshaw’s classic The Beacon at Alexandria may especially enjoy Selene and find a promising new historical novelist who shares the same gift for wonderfully researched, vividly evoked, good old-fashioned storytelling."--The Historical Novel Society

"This book is outstanding!"--Lacuna: Journal of Historical Fiction

"Does what historical fiction does best--weave historical fact, real-life historical figures, and attention to detail with page-turning, plot-driven fiction."--The Copperfield Review

"An entertaining and enlightening novel...a fine read through and through."--Midwest Book Reviews

Released:
Mar 1, 2020
ISBN:
9780917053184
Format:
Audiobook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook

About the author

Faith L. Justice writes in her historic land marked home “The Suffragette House” in Brooklyn, New York where she lives with her family and the required gaggle of cats. Her award-winning fiction has appeared in such publications as Circles in the Hair, The Copperfield Review, and Beyond Science Fiction and Fantasy. She’s published articles in such venues as Salon.com, Writer's Digest, and The Writer. Faith is Chair of the Historical Novel Society--New York City chapter and Associate Editor for Space and Time Magazine. She co-founded a writer’s workshop many more years ago than she likes to admit. For fun, she digs in the dirt – her garden and various archaeological sites.


Related to Selene of Alexandria

Related Audiobooks

Related Articles


Reviews

What people think about Selene of Alexandria

4.2
13 ratings / 13 Reviews
What did you think?
Rating: 0 out of 5 stars

Reader reviews

  • (4/5)
    Fascinating, well-written account of 5th century Alexandria, through the story of Selene, an upper-class girl, who cherishes and fulfills her ambitions of becoming a doctor and escapes the circumscribed life of marriage, running a home, and children under the thumb of an all-powerful husband. We are also thrust into the tumultuous years of that time, with religious dissention and riots between pagans, Jews and various Christian sects, the Machiavellian Patriarch Cyril, the famous woman philosopher, the pagan Hypatia, and the well-meaning, stalwart Augustal Prefect, Orestes, who tries to maintain peace among all Alexandrines. The ending was sad but no doubt inevitable.The author's historical research was impeccable. I thought her portrayal of Hypatia, one of the most accurate I've read: that of an older woman, filled with the wisdom of years. Characters were believable and most aroused my sympathy and admiration. Though physical descriptions and backgrounds of the historical figures were from the author's imagination as she herself admits in her Notes, they rang true. I guess when Cyril was made a saint, his hand in any horrific events was overlooked and emphasis placed on the importance of his writings on church doctrine. Highly recommended.
  • (5/5)
    In Selene of Alexandria, the title character is a young woman who's ahead of her time. Instead of getting married and settling down to the duties of home and hearth, as was customary for women of her time, Selene wants to be a physician. As her story unfolds, we not only get to know her, but other people in her life, both real and fictional. I just love female characters who don't want to fit into the nice neat little box that society prescribes for them, and Selene is no exception. As others have said, it did take a little bit for me to really be drawn in to the book, but once I was hooked, I could hardly put it down. Other characters were well-written and had their own stories to tell - they didn't just serve as a backdrop for Selene's life. The historical detail was interesting to me, and I found the story very engaging.
  • (4/5)
    I received this book through the Member Giveaway, and I was very impressed with the delivery of the book. I received it promptly (even if I didn't read and review it promptly!), and the author took the time to write a note and inscribe it to me, which I really appreciated. I thought it was an excellent personal touch.After I sat down to read the book, it was a quick and pleasant read. **Mild Spoilers** The plot follows the life and ambitions of Selene as she strives to follow her heart's goal of becoming a physician, or at least what passed for one in the late days of Roman occupied Egypt. Her father, while at first furious, gives in to her and allows her to begin studying with the famous Lady Philosopher of Alexandria, Hypatia. Things go well at first, until rising tensions between the Jews and early Christians set of religious riots as the Patriach of the city strives to consolidate his political control of the city. Selene is caught up in his plans, and her life begins a tragic course.Overall, I was impressed with the fact that the author didn't need to give Selene a happy ending. I felt that the story had closure and I like that she survived to go on and live her life a changed woman elsewhere. However, it would have been nice to have one of the two love plots work out and at least allow her some satisfaction in that part of her life. I like to htink that Selene found love wherever she ended up living. I would recommend this book to those interested in Roman culture, early medicine, Egyptian history and the early church. The book is obviously meticulously researched, and I feel it to be factually correct.
  • (4/5)
    I almost gave this a three, but the last quarter and the surprise ending brought it up to a four. The beginning starts great. Readers meet Selene, a young lady of a reputable family Alexandria, Egypt. Note that this is an Alexandria ruled by Rome so it is actually a part of Rome in this particular time. A new Prefect, Orestes is just arriving to take the reigns of the city that is being ruined by religion wars. While Alexandria's Christians and Jews are constantly rioting in the streets and Orestes is struggling to maintain order and keep both sides happy, Selene is trying to become a doctor. She begins this difficult task by deceiving her father, dressing as a boy, and obtaining a meeting with the famous female philospher, Lady Hypatia. From that point on, it's apprenticeship and ministering to the sick. Selene is a very likeable and very strong heroine. Cyrus, Alexandria's "head priest" has other ideas tho. He keeps inflaming the religion wars and he has his evil heart set on the downfall of Hypatia. He intends to use Selene to get to the lady philospher. I did not like the parts that focused on Cyrus or the religious strife in Alexandria. Tho important to the outcome of the story, these parts and the religious arguments and discussions just bored me to death. It simply doesn't interest me. However, the ending picked up wonderfully with no end of excitement. There are deaths of family and friends, an accusation of witchcraftery, a trial, an arrest, an escape, and a surprise ending. I wouldn't have chose it to end the way it did but I must admit, I was surprised. A decent, four star read.
  • (4/5)
    "Selene of Alexandria" is about a teenager constrained by her class and time who fights for the right to study medicine in Alexandria, Egypt. Though she and her family are fictional, many of the other characters were real. One of the most prominent characters, who becomes Selene's champion and teacher, is Hypatia, a philosopher and mathematician. I loved learning about her and want to read more.I learned an incredible amount about what life was like in the time and place where this story was set. (I don't think I would have fared very well.) Justice does an excellent job making history come alive. I think we forget just how sophisticated civiliations that long ago were.I recommend this book for anyone who enjoys historical fiction.
  • (5/5)
    This book has everything... It was such a great story. I LOVED Selene, she was such a great character. I'm really finding it hard to describe her. There were times when she was so strong, emotionally, and yet other times when she would let her emotions take over. She was so strong-willed and yet still understood her place in her world and did as she was supposed to do. I guess the best way I can think to describe her would be, she was a real woman. I was very attached to Selene. She was just so real. While the story focused around Selene there were so many other things that were going on around her. Even when the story didn't focus on Selene she always managed to get herself right there in the middle of what was going on. There were times when I wanted to knock some sense into her, but I knew that she could handle whatever situations she was placed in.The ending was great. While not everyone had a happy ending it was very realistic. There were a few unexpected twists that really added to the tension of the story, but they made for great reading. The story was so great, it had everything. It was exciting, endearing, suspenseful, and emotional. There was a very tense felling around everything. The fight for power in the city, the fight for Selene to get what she wanted out of life, the fight of religion in the city. Everything was marked with tension. This one did take me a while to read. I spent many hours with Selene, Hypatia, Phillip, Rebecca, and Orestes. I'm not sure why it took so long for me to read it, as it was a fairly fast-paced story. Despite the time it took me to finish it was well worth the read. It was beautifully written, it was an intelligent story, and it was easy to escape into Selene's world.
  • (4/5)
    I don't know what I loved more-- the exciting story of a 5th C. woman struggling to fulfil her calling during the decline of the Roman Empire, or all the history I learned of a little known time and place. The setting is Alexandria, the vital Egyptian city held by the Romans because it supplied wheat for the entire empire. The Roman Catholic Church is now the official religion and is gaining in power. I was fascinated to read a story of the politics of the Empire vs. the Church and what would lead to the tragically named, but apropos, Dark Ages. Selene is a wonderful, early feminist role model as she risks her life to study medicine. Her story builds to a surprisingly suspenseful climax as her medical training is called into question. I would strongly recommend this novel to lovers of historical fiction.
  • (4/5)
    This book centers around Selene, daughter of a wealthy council member, living in Alexandria during a time of unrest. With a power-hungry bishop fighting against the fair-minded city prefect, the city has many political and religious riots and debates. Selene is breaking boundaries by persuing her dreams to become a physician and she gets caught up in all the turmoil and intrigue that goes on. I found the characters to be very believable, and of course Selene was my favorite. The pace was a bit choppy at times, skipping ahead a few months during times that seemed like they should be filled with action. I also wasn't expecting the few gory medical details, but they added to the reality of Selene's life. But I was definitely interested in all the events surrounding Selene, and found myself easily caught up in the drama. I enjoyed the realism of the situations, and the fact that though Selene was a tough, smart, and determined herione, not every detail in her life turned out perfect.
  • (5/5)
    Teen-aged Selene lives in the Christian city of Alexandria. In A.D. 412, it is unusual for upper-class girls to enter professions, but Selene wishes to become a physician rather than marry a man of her father's choice. She succeeds in gaining the tutelage of Lady Philosopher Hypatia and other Alexandrian scholars, but the city is descending into a struggle between the Christians under the new, young bishop and all other religious sects, pagan and Jewish. In a city separating into sides in the midst of political intrigue, religious fanaticism, and personal ambitions, can Selene manage to make her dream come true?Setting and characters: The setting and characters themselves are some of the most interesting aspects to this novel. It's set in the Roman Empire, but the Empire is the Christian one of several centuries after the gladiatorial, Caesar-run, pantheon-worshiping one of most other ancient Roman historical novels. It's a time period that I've never run into before in historical fiction, the one when classical civilization was fading into the "Dark Ages." Selene is a fascinating character, being a female physician-in-training (unusual but not unheard of), and the story of Orestes, Prefect of Alexandria, is told as well.Writing: Selene of Alexandria is both well-researched and well-written. Faith Justice makes clear which characters are fictional and which were actual people, and she also includes a historical note at the end to further explain what is factual and what is creative license. She incorporates a wealth of historical details into the story, and these are worked in well enough that they seem natural, not just random research forced into the storyline. My biggest plaudit for this novel is that its story is completely believable. Selene, though an unusual character, is not so modernized in her opinions and actions as to be implausible. Her role in the larger story of Alexandria is not some fantastical place reached by an entirely improbable series of events, instead coming across as small yet still important, organized by chance in the manipulations of the city's leaders. Another situation and person could have been substituted in her spot; it just happened to be Selene.Everything else: For some reason, it took me a surprisingly long time to get into the story. The author takes a while to set up the characters and story, but then there's several central characters and a complex plot. The novel got better after this, though. And better and better and better. By the end, I couldn't put it down. What started off as a slow plot kept getting faster and faster as tensions in Alexandria wound tighter and Selene and her family, along with everyone else, became more entangled in them. I'm hoping that Faith Justice will write another book about the characters of Selene of Alexandria, because even though the novel may have been written as a stand-alone, I want to see what happens to Selene, her family, and her friends as they move on after the conclusion.One final praise: Selene of Alexandria is historical fiction written for historical instruction, not for romance, Christian inspiration, or any other reason. I really hate it when authors take wonderful-sounding historical settings and characters and don't use them to teach history. Really, that's the purpose of historical fiction, to spread historical knowledge in a fun, accessible way. This novel does an excellent job with that, as I learned a lot about this part of history.
  • (5/5)
    Selene is a rich man's daughter living in Alexandria in 412 AD. Not content with the life of a noble Christian woman, she seeks knowledge and freedom. After meeting Lady Philosopher Hypatia and convincing her father to allow her to continue her studies, Selene enters the Museum as a student. She excels at her classes, much to the delight of her father and chagrin of the other elite living in Alexandria. Cyril, the new patriarch of the Alexandrian Church wants to convert Alexandria to complete Christianity. Standing in his way to domination is Prefect Orestes and the Lady Philosopher Hypatia. Also in the Patriarch's way, those who stand for reason. Selene must learn how to navigate this treacherous road.When readers meet Selene, she is a gangly girl of fourteen. Her desire for knowledge distinguishes her from her peers, both male and female. Her journey to awareness can be heartbreaking, but with each misstep, Selene learns a new lesson. And her sincerity and good nature earn her the reader's love. I expected to see more of Hypatia, but her absence leaves the focus on Selene. The other secondary characters, such as Rebecca, Orstes and Antonius were wonderful.The action is never ending, and the plot is full of SUPER twists and turns. Also included in this book are undercurrents of class relations, as well as a battle of Church versus State. These only increase the book's readability.This book had me tearing up a lot. Here are some of my favorite parts."Philosophy is a rigorous study and a way of life which only a few are able to master.""Stripped of my past, I have the opportunity to make my own future."Needless to say, I loved this book and would wholeheartedly recommend this book to any ancient book lover or anyone wanting to learn about Hypatia.
  • (2/5)
    Even people who don’t read historical fiction as obsessively as I do would like this, I should think. And they do! Reviewers on Amazon and GoodReads raved about this one. I believe I’m the first to not like it all that much… So here’s what happened for me.I knew nothing about this time period for Alexandria, Egypt. I typically read about Greece and Rome in this era. Before this, I’d heard no more than a whisper of Hypatia. Orestes and “Saint” Cyril were completely unbeknownst to me. So, what I can take away from this is that I learned loads. I met some characters that actually existed 1600 years ago and that always pleases me when reading historical fiction. It’s really the only place that can happen. But I digress…Because I like to end on a good note…The BadThe author mentioned somewhere that she wanted to get a viewpoint on the political and religious turmoil in this state from the eyes of a common person exposed to it. Hence the entrance of Selene, Philip, Rebecca, etc., all of the author’s imagination. Great. I love when authors do that. They mix enough of the actual history with fiction that it makes sense. But the issue I have here is how predictable these characters were. It seemed that they could do nothing surprising. No cliffhangers. Call me a sucker for cliffhangers but I was bored with them. I knew what they would do/say/think/react to next. Not ver batim but I fancy myself experienced enough to have a good clue. I realize that there is a certain level of predictability that comes with the creation of a character for a novel. There’s only so much one can think up without sounding like a mad person who is intentionally trying to make the wackiest character out there. But when it’s blatantly obvious to a non-writer who the fictional characters are and who are based off real people, one has to wonder.A piece of me wants to mention the preachy nature of this book. But I realize that that was really the point. Religion was meant to be a main focal point. I just sorta felt like it was being forced down my throat on several occasions – evidence suggesting atheism, I might add.The GoodThe author did an amazing job with the characters Cyril, Orestes, Hypatia, etc. I love them. I remember them. I feel like I knew them and I want to read more about them. They were engaging, dynamic, exciting and unpredictable. They felt like real people. Everytime Hypatia and Orestes had conversation, I was enraptured. To me, they shined enough that the other characters disappeared into the shadows. Was that the point? I doubt it seriously.I also think the author showcased the major events well. The purge of the Jews and ensuing Plague, the various riots, even women in professions in this era were all well described and invigorating. There’s no doubt, it kept me clicking the page forward on my Kindle. I just wasn’t thrilled silly.Sometimes I think I’m too harsh, too critical of these writers when I’m not a writer myself. Who am I to judge this person’s work? But I can’t help it. Am I too hung up on the fictional characters bit? I’d like to go back and say “yeah, I should let that go”. But this is historicalfiction. She’s supposed to do well on the research and the made-up parts. And if there are so many writers out there who do this so well (Diana Gabaldon, Paullina Simons, Arthur Golden, etc.), why can’t she? She’s got to be held to a higher standard because she writes for a genre that’s composed of two equally important parts. We’re meant to believe this and I wasn’t sold.I don’t particularly recommend this. My best suggestion when I review something as not great or worse, is to go out and read it yourself to form your own opinions if you so choose.
  • (4/5)
    "Selene of Alexandria", by Faith L. Justice, is an historical novel set in Alexandria during the fifth century. It concerns a young woman named Selene who wishes to defy her sex and her class by becoming a physician. With some effort, she eventually obtains her father's blessing and the support of another key character, Hypatia, the mathematician and philosopher who lived during this time. The book describes her efforts to achieve her dream of practising medicine, and her adventures as she interacts with various prominent historical characters of the period.The premise of this book is a clever and effective one. Although it purports to tell the story of the fictional character Selene, the book is really about the historical characters around Hypatia. That is, the author uses the fictional Selene as a device to relate, in dramatic form, the story of Hypatia. The writing is good, and the characters are well developed and interesting. The character of Selene is made to be very likeable, if a bit unrealistically virtuous.I give this book very high marks for historical fidelity. Among the many fictional works that chronicle the life and, mainly, the death of Hypatia, this one seem to stray the least from the known facts of Hypatias life (few though they be). While any work of fiction concerning the life of Hypatia must employ considerable interpolation, this book seems to have taken a fairly balanced view of events as we understand them. There is no obvious agenda here, as is so clearly the case in most other such works, other than the desire to relate a fascinating story. The use of the fictional character of Selene to effect this goal is successful and results in a very good story.I particularly liked the portrayal of Orestes and Cyril in this book. Here, although Cyril is no saint - pun intended - neither is he portrayed as the caricature of pure evil that most authors, seeking to attack the church, make him out to be. Ultimately, this makes for a more believable representation of this important historical character. Almost nothing is known about the historical Orestes, but Justice creates quite a believable character here as well.Highly recommended.
  • (5/5)
    In Selene of Alexandria, Faith L. Justice does an impressive job of weaving the fictional story of a young woman's coming of age around an interesting historical backdrop. She allows the historical events to shape and guide her titular character while, at the same time, using Selene's story to put a very personal, live human touch on the historical characters and events.The best historical fiction is written around instances of intense conflict, and that's precisely what Justice has done with Selene -- writing a story set in a Hellenized Egyptian city just as the Christians are poised to crush and stamp out dissenters, not only from their own ranks, but also in the form of Jews and pagans. This is a period fraught with danger and excitement from all corners, and Justice captures the mood and tensions well.Selene also showcases another aspect shared by the best of the historical fiction genre. In the book, Justice does not allow the history to overshadow the fiction, not does she sacrifice the historical accuracy of her portrayal to make the writing easier. She walks that fine line well, pulling the reader into an engrossing story, but not giving him any reason to be shocked out of the historical world. I found myself quite incapable of putting aside the novel, always opting for "one more chapter" before going to bed only to find myself still reading hours later. However, at the end, I looked back and could not recall a single instant where I felt the story to be ahistorical.The story in Selene of Alexandria is great, and the writing is even better. I wholeheartedly recommend this book to any fans of historical fiction and to fans of a good read.