Long eons ago, in the days when the Internet was just something called Usenet… before amazon. before paperbackswap. before goodreads… back in Those Days, I made a special trip, while in Canada, to the bookstore. I’m pretty sure it was the World’s Biggest Bookstore (yes, that’s its name). And I bought every single one of Pauline Gedge’s books, and brought them all home with me. Very heavy.
I never really did understand why Gedge is so popular in her home, Canada, and completely unpublicized in the US. Now, of course, you can get any book online – if you know about it – but I fail to see why publishers have seemingly believed that people in the USA are significantly more uninterested in nice, juicy historical fiction about Ancient Egypt than their neighbors to the north.
Anyway, this was a re-read. I’d previously read it under the Canadian title, “House of Dreams.”
I have to admit, reading it this time, it did feel slightly dated, just in the way characters interacted. I also felt mildly annoyed at having a blue-eyed protagonist (you can’t really call her a heroine) in ancient Egypt. Yes, it’s explained and all… but post-Memoirs-of-a-Geisha, I guess I just feel differently about it.
But I’m still giving it 5 stars, because I just really enjoy Gedge’s writing. She manages just the right balance between historically researched details and vivid speculation; really bringing the era to life.
Lady of the Reeds is based on a known incident of a plot to assassinate Ramses III. However, the concubine Thu is all her creation. Starting out as a commoner, daughter of a foreigner in a small town in Egypt, Thu has always felt she is destined for greater things. Hungry for knowledge and power, she will scheme and plot to feed her ambition. She’s a ruthless, and not necessarily likable character, but her story is compelling.