Sunday, January 14, 2007

January Read

I hope many of you are enjoying "Crocodile." For some who are having a bit of trouble getting into the book, it might help to know that it is a bit of a spoof. It was published in 1975, at about the end of the publishing dominance of the Gothic Romance during the 60s and 70s. Peters was pretty successful in that genre, writing both as Elizabeth Peters and Barbara Michaels.

In her real life persona as Barbara Mertz, she is an archaeolgist/Egyptologist, so you can trust her on both the Victorian and Egyptian history details in this book. Those of you who have already read it might have noticed the references to Rider Haggard, and the book very much spoofs his style of adventure romances published between 1885 and his death in 1925--yeah, a slight anachronism there. "Crocodile" also borrows in style from the British travel memoirs of the Victorian period. If you want visuals of the Egypt Peters describes, look at prints by an artist named David Roberts, whose images of Egypt and the Holy Lands were wildly popular and still fetch prices well beyond my budget.

I came across a battered paperback library discard sometime in the early 80s, and it got packed away with some other books I hadn't quite gotten around to reading. In the early 90s, the series started making the best seller lists and I checked out a mid series title to read, but just didn't get it and turned it back in after a couple of chapters. When we moved from Texas to NC in 2001, I found "Crocodile" while unpacking and, at last, gave it a go. I chuckled all the way through and LOVED it. I went on to devour the entire Amelia Peabody series, several of the later titles in audio and read by the incomparable Barbara Rosenblat, who is so able to capture Amelia's tongue-in-cheek self-righteously opinionated tone.


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