Sunday, August 17, 2014

Mara Daughter of the Nile by Eloise Jarvis McGraw

I have a weakness for historical fiction. This historical fiction novel is by the same author as The Golden Goblet, which is one of my favorites to use with my students and takes place at about the same time. It features a 17 year old girl Mara, a slave who strains against the reins of her masters during the end of Queen Hatshepsut's reign about 1457 b.c.e..  Mara is an interesting, clever, and devious girl whose wits are the means of her survival. Mara becomes mixed up in two plots-one to overthrow the pharaoh and one to prevent the overthrow.  Each campaign is lead by men, one stone-faced and cold and the other charming and fierce. Both men offer her the chance to escape slavery by being involved in a dangerous, life-threatening plot. In an interesting mixture of characters and action, Mara tries to please both masters and stay alive, while watching them create/prevent the revolution of Thutmose III. 

It’s an engrossing tale but isn’t historically correct (which bothers me). For example, in my cursory attempt at research, there is no evidence that Hatshepsut was overthrown and she was, in fact, still alive for a year after Thutmose III took over and there is no evidence that he took over violently or even that there was animosity. He just maneuvered politically, as far as I can tell. 

Anyway, forgiving the historical inaccuracies, this book is mostly a page turner although, at times, too descriptive and so a bit of a yawn. There are also times there is too much going on, too much drama, too many strings of plot to hold on to as it weaves this intricate tale, but overall it was fun to read and a great glimpse into daily life in ancient Egypt for girls.