I have NO idea why I waited so long to read an Amelia Peabody book, but suffice it to say, I am thoroughly hooked! Humor, history, romance, mystery, and a clever, though flawed, woman at the helm! Oh yes!
About the Book:
Set in 1884, this is the first installment in what has become a beloved bestselling series. At thirty-two, strong-willed Amelia Peabody, a self-proclaimed spinster, decides to use her ample inheritance to indulge her passion, Egyptology. On her way to Egypt, Amelia encounters a young woman named Evelyn Barton-Forbes. The two become fast friends and travel on together, encountering mysteries, missing mummies, and Radcliffe Emerson, a dashing and opinionated archaeologist who doesn’t need a woman’s help — or so he thinks. (From Goodreads)
I’ve never been to Egypt except through my occasional visits through movies or Agatha Christie’s Poirot episodes. Now, I can add Elizabeth Peters’ series about Amelia Peabody, because I just finished reading the first book, Crocodile on the Sandbank.
What did I love? Well, what’s NOT to love!! From the first-person perspective of Amelia Peabody, the independent, strong-willed, confident (sometimes arrogant), but incredibly fair with a kind heart woman, readers jump on a wonderful trip of learning about the wonders of late 1800s Egypt. The humor was wonderfully British, the mystery delightfully interesting, the romance subtle, surprising and perfectly placed, and the history…an eye-opening account into a very new place for me to travel.
The four main characters, including one important secondary character, are all well-drawn out and multifaceted. Oh my! It was just so much FUN!! Cairo, the Nile, Armana, mummies, excellent male-female banter, sweet romance, and…a wonderful example of grace!!
Caveat: this is a general market book, so there is some mild language, but don’t let THAT stop you from enjoying this amazing trip with remarkable characters (and a somewhat reliable guide into Egypt).
There are many places to visit in the first Amelia Peabody book, Crocodile on the Sandbank, but I’m going to stick with a few of the more featured sites in this story. Of course, Amelia arrives from England into Alexandria, but her first visit of any time is spent in Cairo…and particularly at Shepeard’s Hotel, a particularly elegant place for tourists to experience the best of Egypt.
While in Cairo, we visit the pyramids, which would be a horrible thing to miss, since these ancient structures are the most recognized historical sites in Egypt and remarkable architectural feats as well! (Plus, we learn from Amelia, they provide a lovely view of the surrounding countryside).
Next stop was more fluid. Our narrator takes us on a journey down the Nile in a dahabiyas, a sail-powered river boat – but this is not your usual boat. It’s a small hotel on the water. An open-air drawing room on top, closed drawing room below, bedrooms, kitchen, dining room…truly, traveling down the Nile in one of these (for the right price) definitely improved the journey. Plus, going down the river came with an additional breeze that had to help with the arid temperatures of the ancient country.
Amelia (and her fellow characters) spend most of their time in Amarna on an archeological dig. Most of the descriptions of this area are regarding the filth of the villages outside the archeological dig with their flimsy huts and growing mongrels posed against the cliff-tombs and stunning sunsets. Sand, patches of cultivated green, and the crescent blue of the Nile in the different frames the adventure Amelia, Emerson, Walter, and Evelyn have in this part of the world.
I can’t wait to travel again with Amelia and her cohorts!!
About the Author:
Elizabeth Peters earned her Ph.D. in Egyptology from the University of Chicago’s famed Oriental Institute. During her fifty-year career, she wrote more than seventy novels and three nonfiction books on Egypt. She received numerous writing awards and, in 2012, was given the first Amelia Peabody Award, created in her honor. She died in 2013, leaving a partially completed manuscript of The Painted Queen.