Sent abroad to Egypt in 1922, 11-year-old Lucy is caught up in the excitement that surrounds the hunt for Tutankhamun's tomb. When she meets Frances, the daughter of an American archaeologist, the two girls spy on the grown-ups and a lifelong bond is formed. Haunted by the ghosts of her past, the mistakes she made, Lucy disinters her past. And she finally comes to terms with what happened after Egypt, when Frances needed Lucy most.
©2014 Sally Beauman (P)2014 W.F Howes Ltd
"Once you start reading a Beauman book, you can't put it down" (Guardian)
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"A sad, sad, sad story"
This book was probably the saddest I have ever listened to - The Street by McCarthy being a close second.
The story is that of 11-year old Lucy who loses her mother in a typhoid infection that leaves her on death' door. To distract her, her father, being an absent, disparaging, misanthropic Cambridge scholar, ships her off to Egypt with a nurse/governess in the year 1922.
In Egypt, Lucy meets Frances, daughter of an American egyptologist. Lucy is drawn into the circle around Carter and Lord Carnarvon...
80 years onwards, a tired Lucy is being interviewed for a tv series on Tut. She reminisces about her life and the story skips from her life then and her life now.
I've said it once and I'll say it again: this book has made me cry buckets. I wept. It is not chick-lit, nor uplifting as, say, Major Pettigrew. But it describes life as it is. In this case, a life full of losses, deaths, departures and sadness.
Lucy is eye-witness to one of the greatest archeological finds of all times, and through her (flawlessly researched) eyes I too was witnessing the now lost Egypt of a hundred years ago. She isn't one of the persons on the center stage, but she is there, one the fringes, watching and observing. It made me long to go there, to glimpse what is left.
I had my issues with the story as well: Lucy practically never speaks or comments, so I never really got a feeling of her. She remained a canvas for the other people. Somebody to be spoken to, to have adventures with, yet she herself remains strangely inexistent.
The other thing, kind of spoilery: The last hours of the book wrap up the first third of her life, adding more losses, more tragedy, and I was left to wonder how anyone could live on like that for another 60 years. It is not being mentioned what she did in this time, but it can't have been happy, or Lucy wouldn't have been the person she was at the age of ninety-something.
Even so, full five stars for making me feel as depressed and hopeless as rarely before.
"A gem of a book"
I didn’t know what to expect but was rewarded with over 20 hours of captivating story-telling. It’s an excellent historical novel that gives a revealing account of the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb through the eyes of a fictional character, Lucy Payne, whose imagined life-story adds emotional depth to the book.
The book starts with an aged Lucy being quizzed for details by a film-maker preparing a documentary about the momentous discovery, but soon reverts to 1922 with an 11 year old Lucy witnessing the discovery. Her first-hand account brings to life those actually involved in the search and the conditions under which the archeologists worked. I was drawn into Lucy’s imagined life as she matured into adulthood and her path crossed over the decades with those she met in Egypt. It’s a bitter-sweet story of triumph and tragedy that captured my imagination and left me sorry that the book ended.
The author is adept at creating atmosphere and character and is well-served by the talented narrator who made me feel I was witnessing events and hearing conversations.
"Subtle fictional novel disguised as a memoir"
I particularly liked the subtle development in the narratorial voice. It begins as a child and ends as a young woman, told in the retrospective narrative of an old lady.
Howard Carter really came to life in this fictional version of what happened when Tutankhamun's tomb was discovered.
Lefkow gives each character a separate voice. This is of course present in the text, but she makes them come alive.
Historical fiction that feels true.
The ending is poignant. This is a long book, but the character constellation at the end is definitely worth it.
"Want a good overall audio book Get this"
I like the mixture of a fiction story and factual information
It is exciting but without lots of awful unpleasent bloody scenes
I liked the scene in which they are wondering where Poppy is
Yes if i had time to do so
The reader of this audio book read so well.
Wonderful prose and beautiful descriptions that made me want to repeat sentences aloud. The story weaves in and out past and future, seamlessly.
"Wonderfuly written and read."
From a writing and reading point of view, one of the best.
Laurel Lefkow's narration is simply wonderful, her switch between character's, male, female and child is flawless. The whole story is memorable for its beautiful prose like writing.
Every time Lucy and Frances got together (as children). The characters complimented each other, a kind of sugar and spice!
Basically, it was a cosy comfortable feeling, which simply left a smile on my face.
The story itself, written by or read by anyone else may have left me wanting.
But this is much more than the story, more a work of art.
Fictional view of the archaeological searches of Lord Carnavon, Howard Carter and others in the Valley of the Kings in the 1920s. I love to learn history this way. A story that finishes at the end of the century with many twists and turns en route, beginning with Lucy as a child and ending with ... well, that would be telling. Convincingly read (lots of characters with widely differing accents). I love Sally Beaumann's novels and this might be my favourite. It's long but very rewarding - I'd recommend it!
Beautifully read and atmospheric story surrounding the discovery of Tutankhamen's tomb in Egypt in 1922. It's the tale of the main character, Lucy, and her long life - which is actually quite sad but relieved by deep friendships throughout. I've listened to it twice now and recommend it as an absorbing and interesting story with an historical background.
"Overly long and too light-hearted"
I thought this book was about the supernatural aspects of Egypt and Tutankhamum, however it is not. The narrative follows the exploits of 11 year old Lucy, and the people she meets whilst recovering in Cairo from ill health. The story is set at the time when the tomb is discovered and Lucy meets all the main historical figures but much of the action is with her best friend Frances. Both girls come across as very precocious, especially Frances who does a great deal of explaining archeological matters to the reader. There are some nice descriptions of the period and I felt some of the language & behaviours (such as the attitude to, and treatment of the Egyptians) was realistic. Sadly the behaviour of the adults towards the two naughty girls just didn't ring true. I felt it was overly long and I much preferred the excellent 'Mistress of Nothing' by Kate Pullman as a portrait of women in Egypt. The narrator did an okay job, she didn't put on silly character voices which was good, but there were some errors of pronunciation.
"For history lovers"
I wanted a story set against the backdrop of the discovery of King Tuts tomb and i got exactly that. Not romance, but a good long tale about friendship and love and all the complications these involve. Its helps to already know the story of the discovery of the tomb and to have seen some of the treasures up close in an exhibit. I really enjoyed the story, and marvelled at how the reader went so easily back and forth between British and American English.
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