A beautifully written and epic story of love, regret and secrets, set against the haunting, troubled and exotic background of 1920s Egypt.
Under the tablecloth, Frances's hand reached for mine and clasped it. I knew what it meant, that clasp and the mischievous grateful glance that accompanied it: it meant I was thanked, that there were secrets here. I could accept that. I too had secrets - who doesn't?
Sent abroad to Egypt in 1922 to recover from the typhoid that killed her mother, eleven-year-old Lucy is caught up in the intrigue and excitement that surrounds the obsessive hunt for Tutankhamun's tomb. As she struggles to comprehend an adult world in which those closest to her are often cold and unpredictable, Lucy longs for a friend she can love. When she meets Frances, the daughter of an American archaeologist, her life is transformed. As the two girls spy on the grown-ups and try to understand the truth behind their evasions, a lifelong bond is formed.
Haunted by the ghosts of her past, the mistakes she made and the secrets she kept, Lucy disinters her past, trying to make sense of what happened all those years ago in Cairo and the Valley of the Kings. And for the first time in her life, she comes to terms with what happened after Egypt, when Frances needed Lucy most.
About the Author
Sally Beauman read English at Girton College, Cambridge. She worked as a journalist in America and Britain before beginning to write fiction. She is the author of six previous novels, including the acclaimed Rebecca's Tale.
Read Caroline Baum's Review
There can be few stories about archaeology as thrilling as Howard Carter’s discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamum in the Valley of the Kings in 1922.
It’s so full of suspense and intrigue that it has many of the perfect elements of fiction. Sally Beauman cleverly mixes together a large cast of real life figures with an equally large cast of equally flamboyant fictional ones in the stylish hotel lobbies and dining rooms of colonial Egypt as the drama plays out in the desert.
Yes there is a bit of cultural stereotyping and a few clichés at play here, but they are minor and harmless and don’t get in the way of a satisfyingly immersive read that’s entertaining and lots of authentic juicy detail about the dig, how it was financed and the media frenzy it generated.
Number Of Pages: 544
Published: 28th January 2014
Dimensions (cm): 23.4 x 15.3 x 3.2
Weight (kg): 0.653