Thursday, January 22, 2009
This series fictionalizes the life of Huy, who was a famous seer and healer in Ancient Egypt. He was born into a peasant family from a small town in Egypt's fertile Delta region. Volume One of this series, The Twice Born, relates Huy's childhood and the shocking event that would shape his entire life to come. As a small boy his wealthy Uncle paid for Huy to attend a well known school. While he was there, Huy was taunted by some of the other students due to his peasant birth. One day a fellow student hit Huy in the head with a throwing stick. Huy was knocked out and fell into a deep pool of water. He drowned. While he was unconscious (make that dead), he had a strange dream in which the Gods of Egypt asked him to read and understand the Book of Thoth, Ancient Egypt's spiritual text, that was closely guarded by the priests. He awakens five days later in the house of the dead. His body has been awaiting the embalmers and his whole family is in mourning for him. The Gods have exacted a terrible price for Huy's life, they have given him the "gift" of seeing the future and healing the sick. Use of his "gift" leaves him with a terrible headache and has made him permanently impotent, but Huy does his best to put his new talent to use for the benefit of the poor people of Egypt.
When Seer of Egypt opens, Huy has moved into a small estate that Pharaoh has given him. He lives with his childhood friend, Ishat, who he has trained as his scribe. Huy is deeply in love with her but can never be a true partner to her, or give her the children she longs for. Together they care for the huge amounts of people who come seeking Huy's help and advice.
Huy has built a nice life for himself, with good friends and trustworthy servants. But he is not happy, he cannot have a true life partner and he worries constantly for the future of Egypt. Ishat eventually leaves his home to marry his best friend. Huy is heartbroken but goes on as best he can in his solitary, lonely, but successful life.
Eventually Huy realizes that he is shirking his promise to the Gods to understand the Book of Thoth. He hasn't even thought about it in many years, indeed he has done his best not to think of it at all. But he is beginning to see patterns in his visions. There are several occasions when he has a vision of danger to a friend or loved one. When he warns the person and encourages them to avoid the danger, the scenario always plays itself out anyway, but another innocent life is affected instead. The Gods always extract their due. He sees dire portents for the land of Egypt, too. He struggles, trying to decide what it is that the messages are trying to tell him.
Years pass and Huy is entrusted with the second Prince's education for a few months each summer, at Huy's estate. He grows to love the boy, who is like the son that Huy will never have. When the Price becomes Pharaoh, Huy is ordered to the Palace to be at the new King's right hand. With his future assured, Huy is in position to become one of the most powerful men in Egypt.
I have been a Pauline Gedge (and an Ancient Egypt) fan since I read her novel, Child of the Morning, many years ago. She was my first taste of Historical Fiction set in Ancient Egypt and I have loved it ever since. I have read all of her previous books and was thrilled to receive this one for review. I did enjoy it but I found it to be a little bit slow in places. It is like a bridge between the breathtaking events of The Twice Born and the concluding volume that will deal with the later years of Huy's life, when he gained great power and renown. While this novel has the author's wonderful descriptions of Ancient Egypt, from the peasant towns of the Nile to the palaces of the Pharaohs, it covers a period of over twenty years of Huy's life and there are sections where not very much is happening.
I do recommend it, as well as the rest of the Egypt novels by Pauline Gedge. But definitely read Volume One first so you have Huy's whole story and then you won't mind accompanying him through his middle years, probably the last peaceful time that he will have in his long life. (Did I mention that his "gift" also seems to keep him from aging? It is very sad for him to see his friends and loved ones aging, sickening, dying, while he stays looking like a fit twenty-something.) The author has created a fascinating character in Huy and I felt for him in his continuing struggle with a "gift" that is both a blessing and a curse. I'm looking forward to the final volume in this interesting series.
If you would like to try a Paulie Gedge book that stands alone, I would point you to Child of the Morning, my favorite of all her books, or Lady of the Reeds, another wonderful novel.
Visit the website here.
Seer of Egypt is published by Penguin Canada. ISBN 978-0-14-305293-7
Order Seer of Egypt from Amazon
Order The Twice Born from Amazon
Order Child of the Morning from Amazon
Order Lady of the Reeds from Amazon
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
In the middle of a family Thanksgiving, Eve Gimbel overhears her husband, Jon, on the telephone. She can tell by the tenderness in his voice that he is talking to another woman. She is devastated. Ten years together and she never had a clue that Jon might be losing interest. Their life has seemed exactly the same as it always was. They have a young son and Eve is only a month from giving birth to their second child.
Jon immediately denies any physical infidelity, but he has been building a relationship with this woman through email and phone calls for more than a year. Without Jon knowing, Eve accesses his email records and reads everything that he and the other woman have written to each other. The knowledge she gains compel her to insist on a trial separation.
While they are apart both Jon and Eve eventually discover that their marriage wasn't what it should or could have been. They both fell into easy roles that, like a bad habit, became second nature to each of them. They learn that a dynamic relationship takes real work and they must decide if they are willing to invest that in each other and their family.
What is cheating? That is the interesting question that Holly Shumas poses in this novel. Is an emotional betrayal worse than a physical one? In our society, infidelity is generally considered to be a sexual affair. In this case, though, Eve is most hurt that Jon is giving the light, fun part of himself, that she knew in their early days together, to someone else. To her, a physical fling might even have been easier to forgive than his emotional entanglement with another woman.
I thought this was a smart, well written story that educates in the guise of entertainment. It imparts the important message that communication, self-awareness and honesty are vital for a successful relationship. It is one of those things that is difficult in practice, which is why there are professionals out there to help with rough patches. Holly Shumas is a licensed marriage and family therapist and her knowledge shines through in her novel. Her website is here.
This would be a fantastic book for reading groups, there is plenty of material for discussion! The Reading Group Guide is here.
Love and Other Natural Disasters is published by 5 Spot. ISBN 978-0-446-50477-5
See what everyone else thought! Here's the list of the blog tour participants:
Friday, January 9, 2009
Poor Oliver Booth. He's big. He's sweaty. He's the proprietor of an antique shop in Palm Beach but his taste is questionable and his antiques are...well... not. He desperately wants to be part of high society but they know an outsider when they see one and he has no hope of breaking in. He can't keep an assistant, either, because his basic nature tends toward grumpy, lazy and greedy.
The big New Year's Eve party at the Morningwood Club is a big night for Oliver. He plans to recoup the steep ticket price by being first in line at the buffet table. Unfortunately, the evening is a complete disaster for him. But he does meet a smart young waiter, Bernard, who agrees to be the replacement for Oliver's recently fired assistant.
When Margaret Van Buren, the doyenne of Palm Beach society, pays a visit to Oliver's shop, he is eager to sell her a large quantity of his inventory. She picks out the only nice piece in the place, which turns out to have been selected by Bernard. It seems he has quite an eye. She offers Bernard, and Oliver by default, a trip to Paris to buy furnishings for her guesthouse.
Order The Misadventures of Oliver Booth from Amazon
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Monday, January 5, 2009
My Splendid Concubine is published by iUniverse. ISBN 978-0-595-45843-1Order My Splendid Concubine from Amazon
Friday, January 2, 2009
- The Tome Traveller
- New Hampshire, United States
- Bibliophile, Anglophile, Traveller... I have been an avid reader all of my life, since I took the Dr. Seuss Dictionary away from my Mom when I was less than a year old because I wanted to read it myself. In college, where I earned my degree in English Literature, I was often asked "What are you going to do with it?" Now I finally have the answer to that question!!! Being employed as a Flight Attendant for twenty years has given me a lot of life experience and, better still, a lot of time to read. I love to travel for fun, too.