This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Reviewed by Cesca Major
Three women escape the fog of Victorian London and head for Egypt. The invalid Harriet Heron is twenty-three and has yet to live. Closeted in their London house and fussed over by her mother Louisa she wants to escape to a place where she can finally breathe. Harbouring her own Egyptian Book of the Dead, she has her eyes set on Thebes. Accompanied by Louisa's church-going sister-in-law, Yael they embark on a journey that will dramatically affect the lives of all three women forever…
I adored this book's unique setting. The minutiae of daily life in Egypt at the end of the 19th century were fascinating and masterfully woven into the story, never detracting from the action. The three women were distinctive and exquisitely drawn – Harriet was a passionate and quietly determined heroine. I found myself both willing her on and worrying for her like her own Mother Louisa did. There were some fascinating snatches – the story of Mr and Mrs Cox was both grotesque and compelling and I thoroughly enjoyed the back-story of the enigmatic Dr Woolfe. Yael was a fabulous character, vibrant, energetic and I loved watching her transform as she found her true calling in Alexandria. The menacing Mr Soane and the intrigue surrounding Louisa's connection with him was as gripping as it was tragic. It is a difficult book not to spoil so I shall leave it there.
For those of you who have read Wendy Wallace's debut 'The Painted Bridge' (and if not do rectify this: it's fantastic) her fluid writing style and attention to detail will come as no surprise. The book is built on thorough research, but at its heart is character and an extraordinary setting. I wanted to buy my ticket for a Nile cruise the moment I had closed the last page.
Wendy Wallace's Website