As you can imagine, a site like Packabook requires a LOT of reading (oh what a chore….) but even for someone like me, who looks forward to a long bus trip because it comes with uninterrupted reading time, it is impossible to read ALL the books I want to. And when that happens – I need to call in the help of our readers.
In searching for books set in Egypt, I came across the Amelia Peabody detective novels by Elizabeth Peters. We first meet Peabody in 1884 when she sets off on a tour of classical sites after a large inheritance. This parasol-wielding Victorian feminist soon finds herself in Egypt. When she becomes involved in an attempted kidnapping she sets out to solve the mystery, and thus begins a series of books that now number more than 20. We become embroiled in Amelia’s adventures, romances and family sagas and learn a whole lot about ancient Egypt along the way.
Now when I start reading a series of novels I want to finish them…and much as I’d quite happily be emerged in Peabody novels for the next three years, I thought it would be far more advisable if I brought in an expert. Lindsay Griffiths is a self-confessed Peabodyaholic and she helps me get to the bottom of her fascination with this feisty heroine.
There are A LOT of Amelia Peabody books. How many have you read? All of them, with the exception of the latest one – but I just added it to my iBooks reader on the iPad and hope to finish it before the end of my latest business trip!
What first attracted you to them? When I was in high school, we got a list of books for summer reading – one of Elizabeth Peters’ other titles was on there (Night Train to Memphis). I loved it and read all of the modern ones I could get my hands on. I’ve never enjoyed books from earlier time periods, so I was reticent to pick up any of the Amelia Peabody books. But there was one day I was so desperate to read something else that Peters had written, that I gave in and bought one. Fortunately, she’d written so many by that point, because I was immediately hooked and read the rest.
Do you feel you ‘get to know’ Egypt by reading these books? I feel I get to know Egypt in the late 1800’s, early 1900’s but not necessarily as it is now. It is a rather romantic portrait of the country, so I do feel as though I wish I were there at that time!
Does it make you want to go to Egypt? Yes, definitely – most anyone who knows me knows of my wish to go to Egypt and cruise along the Nile. I haven’t been yet though – but I’m encouraging my fascination by recently visiting the King Tut exhibit in New York City and researching the Smithsonian’s Egyptian tour.
What is it about Amelia Peabody that you like? She’s plucky, resourceful and sure of herself. She really knows who she is and doesn’t care what anyone else thinks about her or her decisions. She knows she isn’t perfect, but makes the most of her assets instead of worrying about her flaws.
It is often the case with a series of books like this that you enjoy the first few and then your interest tapers off, is that the case with the Peabody books? Not at all – I was very excited to find out that there was a new book out. Also, I’m never one to re-read a book. Ever. But with the Peabody series, I enjoy them so much that I’ve just started reading them again. I’ve been reading them for probably about ten years, so I’ve forgotten what happens in the earlier ones – plus, I always feel that when enough time passes in your life, you’re reading them from a different perspective, so they will have different meaning to me now.
What would you say to any readers thinking about reading the Peabody books and embarking on what, you must admit, is a pretty serious commitment ? Do it. They’re a fast and enjoyable read and Peters writes the characters in such a way that you’re really drawn in and invested in what happens to them. They become like familiar old friends. Although I love the Peabody series, Elizabeth Peters’ other books are not to be ignored – they’re similarly excellent and enjoyable reads!
So there you have it! If you would like to embark on a Peabody journey then you will want to start with book number one Crocodile on the Sandbank and before long you will end up as big a fan as Lindsay.
P.S. Don’t forget to check out what other books set in Egypt we recommend.