Monday, March 21, 2011
The story opens in England in the late 19th century, as "spinster" Amelia Peabody inherits the bulk of her wealthy father's estate. She is immediately beset with suitors, but she ignores them all, knowing full well they're after her money, and sets out to travel to ancient historical sites around the world. She has always shared her father's avid interest in archaeology, and she longs to see in person all the things she's read about.
The woman she's been traveling with becomes ill in Italy, and through a stroke of good fortune, Amelia acquires the perfect traveling companion, an intelligent young woman named Evelyn, who is in a difficult situation. Together, the two women head to Egypt, where they make the acquaintance of two archaeologist brothers. After travelling down the Nile, the two women eventually find themselves at an archaeological dig, where they become involved in an intriguing mystery involving the nighttime apparition of a mummy in the ruins.
The plot is fairly straightforward and a bit predictable, but it is the interaction among the characters that brings this exciting historical mystery to life. Amelia is an independent, strong, and very stubborn woman, definitely not one to shy away from confrontation, whose caustic comments and observations are often hilarious. This is one of the series that I regularly recommend to teens who are transitioning from YA fiction to novels written for adults. In fact, I read it as a young teen, and I have to say I found it pretty funny to compare my youthful experience with my current, not-so-youthful experience with this book. It follows a fairly typical romance plotline - you know, where the protagonist and the romantic interest bicker and argue, but eventually must admit their mutual attraction for each other? I clearly remember being absolutely as flabbergasted as Peabody by the romantic developments in the book. I had to laugh at my younger self this time around.
At any rate, I thoroughly enjoyed rereading this first book in the entertaining Amelia Peabody series, and Barbara Rosenblatt's narration was delightful. I will continue with the audio versions, and I'm looking forward to making my way through the happily many books that await.
Books in the Amelia Peabody series:
1. Crocodile on the Sandbank
2. The Curse of the Pharaohs
3. The Mummy Case
4. Lion in the Valley
5. The Deeds of the Disturber
6. The Last Camel Died at Noon
7. The Snake, The Crocodile and the Dog
8. The Hippopotamus Pool
9. Seeing a Large Cat
10. The Ape Who Guards The Balance
11. The Falcon at the Portal
12. Thunder in the Sky
13. Lord of the Silent
14. The Golden One
15. Children of the Storm
16. Guardian of the Horizon
17. The Serpent on the Crown
18. Tomb of the Golden Bird
19. A River in the Sky
Crocodile on the Sandbank (#1 in the Amelia Peabody series) by Elizabeth Peters; narrated by Barbara Rosenblatt (Recorded Books, 2004 - novel originally published in 1975)
Also reviewed at:
Age 30+: A Lifetime of Books: "I loved the main character; Amelia’s sharp tongue and brusque manner are fabulous, as are her interactions with the other characters (especially Emerson)."
Angieville: "This is a light and witty Victorian adventure mystery and it made me laugh several times. I have hopes for the rest of the series and will definitely be picking up the second book in the near future."
Things Mean a Lot: "Peabody is clearly written in the tradition of the women travellers and science pioneers of the Victorian and Edwardian periods, women about whom I’d love to read more."