The main character is an orphan, she gets her education as a fortunate extra with the children of the gentry, shes beautiful & spirited, and she gets miraculously saved from a desperate life as a ladys companion by snagging the man intended for the well-born gal. Perhaps I should have let sleeping dogs lie, but I have another of Holts books out of the public library, which I will likely read.
They would hire 100s of locals to do the digging, and spend a lot of time complaining to each other about the heat, the food, the scorpions, and how the Egyptian officials were so cross about them doing their important work and sometimes getting themselves murdered. I like Holts prose style, but I think she did a terrible job of structuring this book. Tybalt wants to go back to Egypt on an expedition to finish his fathers work. Judith meets Tybalt when she decides to scare the squires daughter by wrapping herself up like a mummy and emerging from a sarcophagus that the archaeologist has lying around his house. So the first 170 pages of this book are Judith growing up with these other children and developing her interest in archaeology and Egyptology. The flashback ends, and Tybalt proposes to Judith. How convenient that Judith is going to marry Tybalt, who is really expensive. And Judith is also noticing, now she has Tybalt, that his housekeeper is real pretty. Shes been around all this time, but maybe Tybalt is in love with her, and is only marrying Judith for the money? Judith and Tybalt marry, and the sex is pretty decent. They can talk archaeology together, and everything would be pretty perfect except for the suspicions about the money and the housekeeper, and the fact that Tybalt wont stop apologising for being a crap husband, rather than doing anything about it. They were fun because Judith is an entertaining character, and has won her Tybalt prize in the face of some very long odds. But it started to dawn on me that I was already exhausted by this book, and didnt much care what a bunch of 19th century British people were going to do in Egypt. Its also a given that there will be danger and adventure, but that Holt isnt going to do the Mummy, and Tybalt is not going to turn into a cute, Brandon Fraser style hero and make everything fun and sexy. Judith does the usual thing of saying hes not conventionally handsome (couldnt just one hero be worth looking at?). But hes dull and distracted and even when she thinks theyre having a good time he has this way of pointing out that he wasnt actually present in the moment, and isnt that a shame? Judith almost DIES, and he still cant do a good you are the most precious and interesting thing in the entire world and Id prefer a lifetime of dusting sand off your boobies to dusting sand off priceless ancient artefacts speech at her bedside. There are warnings about the Curse, but since nothing happens for the first half of the book, the whole Egypt thing has lost any immediacy. A romance would have spent a lot more time on giving Judith a proper rival, or made Tybalt a more interesting hero, and investing more in Judiths bosss antagonism - giving that plot real stakes.
I started reading her many years ago, and I still enjoy delving into one of her books every now and then. Tybalt himself seemed a little too aloof and cool at times and totally obsessed with the dig his father had been involved with, but, to be fair to him, he did warn Judith that such might be the case.
As Sir Edward was a healthy man, rumors quickly spread of a curse. Judith dismisses the rumors .
Eleanor Alice Burford, Mrs. George Percival Hibbert was a British author of about 200 historical novels, most of them under the pen name Jean Plaidy which had sold 14 million copies by the time of her death.