Sunday, November 12, 2006

Crocodile On the Sandbank

Crocodile on the Sandbank

Elizabeth Peters

Date: 1975   —   $6.75   —   Book

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Fiction, Mystery

This is the book that introduces Elizabeth Peters' most prominent protagonist, Amelia Peabody. Miss Peabody is a recently wealthy spinster who dislikes men and marriage because in her Victorian society, they keep her from doing what she wants to do. In this case, it is a world tour, threatened by the illness of her companion. While out for some thinking and sightseeing, she comes across a collapsed Englishwoman whose clothes indicate she has fallen on hard times. Struck by a thought, she plays the good Samaritan and, when the girl revives, offers her the position of companion.

The girl, Evelyn*, is out of favor with her family because she eloped with a young gentleman. Far from considering her ruined, Miss Peabody is curious about the whole business. When a trip down the Nile brings them into contact with the archæologists Emerson, and their stay is interrupted by, of all things, a mummy walking around at night, Miss Peabody is determined to get to the bottom of things.

And what Miss Peabody wants, she gets.

Amelia Peabody is an interesting character, and the story is told from the point of view of her "revised journals." It is evident from the prose that Miss Peabody is supposed to have read "romances" extensively, which at that time meant King Solomon's Mines rather than Slave of Lust. She's a lot of fun but seems to be a difficult woman to get around.

*At this time, Evelyn was still mostly a boy's name, along with Beverly, Ashley, and Marion.

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