ISBN-13: 9780062302700
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication Date: 7 July 2015
Format: Paperback, 544 pgs
Source: Publisher

Egypt. Valley of the Kings. Tutankhamun's tomb. Do these fascinate you? If they are, then you are in for a good literate ride filled with history, adventures and not to mention a haunting tale of two young girls' journey to Egypt in the '20s and how a series of events have changed and shaped their lives.

Lucy Payne was eleven when she was sent abroad to Egypt to recover from the typhoid that killed her mother. With her father immersed in his academic work at Cambridge college, young Lucy had only Miss Mackenzie, her guardian, for their travels in Egypt. Miss Mack, whom Lucy fondly called, was not only "in loco parentis" (Latin for "in the place of a parent") but was also a great companion and a guide to Lucy.

There, she befriends Frances Winlock, the daughter of an American archaeologist and through her, Lucy learns and witnesses firsthand the intrigue of Egypt, its history and culture. She's heard enough stories about treasure hoards and the excavations in Cairo and Luxor; and that Egyptian antiquities dealers would drive up prices through inventing stories about the things they sell. There is one English archaeologist, Mr Howard Carter, who's in charge of an excavation in the Valley of the Kings and seems to have a wide knowledge when Egyptian history is concerned, Lucy finds him aloof, arrogant and mysterious as well. I found him interesting, but he wasn't really an amiable person in my opinion.

As the story progresses, we see through Lucy's eyes through her youth and her older age how Egypt was during the 20s and the intrigue and mysterious legends surrounding Egyptian history and culture. There, she'd also witnessed how the hunt and the discovery would make some people go to extra lengths to fulfill their desires. 

I was also fascinated (and horrified) to learn about the process of mummification through bits of information mentioned in the book. It goes without saying that the author had done a thorough research writing this book and did a wonderful job in it. I felt I was travelling with Lucy and the others through their journeys; and I liked Miss Mack for her sincere and bubbly personality. 

I've to admit it took me a while to find myself immersed into the story; granted it is about 540+ pages long (and an informative list of historical figures, places and provenance at the end of the book) and a cast of interesting characters who you'll either like or dislike. Some readers might also find the pace a bit slow as the pace is measured as the author seemed to take her time in building the story. However, Ms. Beauman has brought both the historical figures and the fictional characters to life through her storytelling and the Egyptology part is most intriguing. A must-read for fans of historical fiction and Egyptology.  
10 Responses
  1. This sounds like such an interesting book! I haven't read too much in the way of fiction set in Egypt. I do love history though and reading about different cultures. I may have to give this one a try. The slowness you describe gives me pause--but mostly because at the moment, I'm in more of a fast mood. This one sounds like it would best be read when I'm in the right mood for it. Thanks for your great review, Melody.

  2. jenclair Says:

    Yes! Ancient Egypt, archaeology, King Tut's tomb, and Howard Carter have fascinated me since I was very young. This one sounds like a winner! Thanks, Melody. :)

  3. Melody Says:

    Wendy - I haven't read many books which set in Egypt but I thought this is really an interesting book, with the historical stuff and the story itself. I agree some books are best to be read in the right mood. I hope you'll enjoy reading this when you get to it. :)

  4. Melody Says:

    Jenclair - I'm thinking this book might interest you and I'm glad I'm right. :) Hope you'll like this one.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    I do love reading about both archaeology and Egypt! I'm a bit nervous about the pace of the book, though, as I know I'm fairly impatient when books take a while to get into the plot. Hmmm.

  6. Melody Says:

    Jenny - I know there are readers who prefer a measured pace and see the story slowly progresses, but I'm the kind who wants to see some actions or at least some developments after a few chapters. There are lots of dialogues here too, but I'm fine with that. Perhaps you may try and see how it goes with a library copy. :)

  7. The Bookworm Says:

    I have seen this one around and I need to read it. It sounds good. The whole mummification part sounds interesting too. Great review!

  8. Melody Says:

    Naida - Thanks, Naida! I hope you'll enjoy reading it when you get to it. :)

  9. Everything about this book screams that I should read it. I remember seeing it around, then it fell off my radar. Thanks for the reminder. :-)

  10. Melody Says:

    Diana - I hope you'll enjoy reading it, Diana. :)

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