Weekly Geeks 2009.11: Historical Fiction, Amelia Peabody Style!

by Kim on March 24, 2009 · 16 comments

wg-relaxing-url5I’ve been pretty negligent about Weekly Geeks as of late; however, I’m back for this weeks edition, written by Ali from Wordcupia, which is all about historical fiction. Ali had a lot of questions, but here are the ones I liked best:

Do you have a favorite book that really pulled you back in time, or perhaps gave you a special interest in that period? Include a link to a review of it on another book blog if you can find one (doesn’t have to be a Weekly Geek participant).

If you check out my reading list, you’ll see that as of late I haven’t been a huge historical fiction reader.  However, as a high schooler (which is not that long ago, actually, five years? Eek!), I was completely obsessed with the Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters.

Set in Egypt near the end of the 1800s, the series is a mix of mystery, historical fiction, romance, adventure, and comedy that spans “three generations, a world war, and thirty-five years of turbulent history.”  Egyptologist Amelia Peabody Emerson is a feisty, funny, and flawed main narrator, and she is surrounded by a host of family members and other characters that fill out the story.

What makes this series so great is that there is a little something for every kind of reader. Peabody (as Amelia is referred to by her husband, Emerson), starts the series as a “confirmed spinster, suffragist, and scholar.”  After her marriage, she retains her spunky personality, but also learns and grows with her husband. I love strong, independent female characters, and I also love romance; this series brings both of those things together.  Plus, as the Emerson’s only son Ramses grows up, there is quite a lot of romance for him too!

In addition, these books spend a ton of time on Egyptology, a topic I used to be obsessed with.  Most of the books are set in Egypt during the archaeology season (fall to spring), and center around the Emerson families dig. The accuracy of the history and mythology might be a little loose for hardcore Egyptologists, I’m not sure, but since I didn’t know any better it didn’t bug me.

The first book in the series, The Crocodile on the Sandbank, was published in 1975.  The most recent, The Tomb of the Golden Bird, came out in 2006.  There are a total of 18 books in the series, plus rumors of a few more coming, so if you like them it’ll take you a long time to finish them all.

I looked back over the list of the entire series today, and I’ve only read about 15. I think that’s because I got to a point where I had caught up with the rate the books were being published and therefore couldn’t check them out from the library anymore.  I’m notoriously awful at paying attention to when new books arrive, so I just sort of lost track of the series.  After bringing it up again for Weekly Geeks, I might be making some adjustments to my summer reading list!

Other Reviews: Marg at Reading Adventures reviewed He Shall Thunder in the Sky and The Falcon at the Portal (she liked both), and Beth at Beth Fish Reads reviewed The Hippopotamus Pool (which she thought was a bit of a dud in an otherwise good series).

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