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#199 ~ Nefertiti

Cover of Nefertiti

Nefertiti by Michelle Moran

Amunhotep III is the Pharoah of Egypt.  His eldest and most beloved son Tuthmosis is set to be his heir. Uizier Ay is the brother of Amunhotep’s wife and Tuthmosis’ mother, Queen Tiye.  They plan on marrying Tuthmosis to Ay’s eldest daughter Nefertiti.  Their plans are disrupted, however, when Tuthmosis dies duuring an illness.  Many believe that he was murdered by his brother, Amunhotep IV, a selfish prince who believes that the priests of Amun, the great god of Egypt, are doing no more than hoarding the wealth of Egypt for a false god.  It is decided that Nefertiti should now marry the younger Amunhotep in hopes of reigning him in.  Nefertiti does just the opposite when she learns that she has to feed into his vanity and give herself fully to Amunhotep’s sun god Aten in order to keep her position in his harem.  All of this is witnessed and recorded by Nefertiti’s sensible and loyal younger sister, Mutnodjmet.  Mutny loves her sister, but grows uneasy with the  way in which her sister and the Pharoah rule Egypt.  She lives with them in the new city they erect for the glory of Aten, Amarna.  Her disapproval grows and Mutny is forced to choose between her sister and her own destiny.

Nefertiti opened my eyes to an intriguing and exciting world that I really haven’t given much thought. Before October, my only cultural exposure to Ancient Egypt was The Ten Commandments, the brouhaha when King Tut’s tomb was found back when I was young, and the bust of Nefertiti I saw at the XXXXX museum in Berlin back in 1997.  It wasn’t that I didn’t find Egypt interesting.  There were just other louder and more immediate influences pointing me toward England, France, and Civil War.  Nefertiti has changed that.  From the moment I picked the novel up and found mention of Nefertiti’s bust in the XXXXX, I could not put it down.  There was an immediate connection for me.  Our book club loved this so much that we’ve selected the sequel, The Heretic Queen, as our book club selection for November.  I – we – cannot wait to read more fiction set in Ancient Egypt.  I want to know what happens after Nefertiti’s death.  I want to know more about the Egyptian gods and why XXXXXX might have felt the need to create his own.
Michelle Moran not only brought Nefertiti and Mutny to life, she painted their story like a picture.  I can fully visualize the city that XXXXX and Nefertiti built.  I can see and feel the stone used to create the temples to Aten.  Most importantly, I felt as though I knew the characters.  Mutny instantly became a friend to me and I cared deeply about her throughout the book.

Nefertiti_berlinNefertiti opened my eyes to an intriguing and exciting world that I really haven’t given much thought. Before October, my only cultural exposure to Ancient Egypt was The Ten Commandments, Steve Martin’s song “King Tut“, The Bangles’ “Walk Like an Egyptian,” and the bust of Nefertiti I saw at the Altes Museum in Berlin back in 1997.  It wasn’t that I didn’t find Egypt interesting.  There were just other louder and more immediate influences pointing me toward England, France, and Civil War.  Nefertiti has changed that.  From the moment I picked the novel up and found mention of Nefertiti’s bust in the Author’s Note, I could not put it down.  There was an immediate connection for me.  Our book club loved this so much that we’ve selected the sequel, The Heretic Queen, as our book club selection for November.  I – we – cannot wait to read more fiction set in Ancient Egypt.  I want to know what happens after Nefertiti’s death.  I want to know more about the Egyptian gods and why Amunhotep might have felt the need to create his own.

Michelle Moran not only brought Nefertiti and Mutny to life, she painted their story like a picture.  I can fully visualize the city that Amunhotep and Nefertiti built.  I can see and feel the stone used to create the temples to Aten and the statues of the Pharoah and his Queen.  Most importantly, I felt as though I knew the characters.  Mutny instantly became a friend to me and I cared deeply about her throughout the book.  Nefertiti was adored and worshipped, but it was Mutny whose character shown through in everything that she did.  She was the one who wanted to help people, not just throw money into the streets to buy support for her husband.  She was intelligent and practical.  People came to her for her herbal remedies.  Perhaps she could have kept the Pharoah in check where her sister couldn’t, but I think she would have been miserable.

As I read Nefertiti, I kept thinking back to The Other Boleyn Girl.  There are so many parallels between the stories.  Both sets of sisters are propelled into royal politics for family gain.  Nefertiti and Anne Boleyn were both instrumental in changing the religious landscape of their day.  In securing their place, both queens ended up creating monsters they could not control, and neither queen bore an heir.  In these fictional settings, the sisters must risk their lives to find happiness and are left to pick up the pieces.  The Other Boleyn Girl sparked my love affair with historical fiction.  Had I read Nefertiti first, I believe it would have done the same.  It’s just that good.  Despite the difficulty I had getting used to reading and sounding out the names of some of the characters, they quickly found a place and my imagination and, in the case of Mutny, a place in my heart.

+++++

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Nefertiti was the last book read during the Historical Fiction Lover’s Book Club Queens of Summer series on Facebook.

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To buy this novel, click Nefertiti.

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16 Comments

  • At 2009.09.12 00:26, Jen - Devourer of Books said:

    I’m not surprised you loved this – I read “The Heretic Queen” and it was fantastic – but I’m very glad, so I have it from the library right now.

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    • At 2009.09.12 01:16, Ladytink_534 said:

      I too was reminded of The Other Boleyn Girl when I was reading this. I really need to read The Heretic Queen soon!

      http://reviewsofthings.blogspot.com/2009/03/nefertiti-perfect-one.html

      • At 2009.09.12 06:03, Meghan said:

        I’m so glad you loved this one, Jennifer. I definitely wish more books were written outside of France, England, and the US. Maybe they are and I just have to try harder to find them, but I still think Michelle Moran would be one of the best.

        • At 2009.09.12 06:18, Sandy said:

          Like you, this is a part of history I know virtually nothing about, save the Kint Tut exhibits I’ve seen or visiting the British Museum. I had the audio in my hand once at the library, but ended up with something else. I’m going to have to give this a try.

          • At 2009.09.12 09:02, Kathy said:

            I know exactly what you mean. When I read a book with names that are difficult for me, it takes me a little while to fall into the rhythm of the book. This one sounds marvelous, though.

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            • At 2009.09.12 10:22, Rebecca Reid said:

              I am fascinated by ancient Egypt, so this does sound like a great book!

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              • At 2009.09.12 11:01, Esme said:

                I enjoyed this book. I did not know the story before reading the book-this is a great way to learn some history.

                • At 2009.09.12 11:10, Lisa (Books and Cooks) said:

                  I’ve wanted to read this book for awhile but have been reluctant. I sometimes have a hard time getting into a story if I can’t even pronounce the names correctly! But your review was fantastic and makes me want to give it a try. Thanks!!

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                  • At 2009.09.12 11:23, Stephanie said:

                    Thank you for the review. I’ve been pondering this book for awhile and you’ve convinced me I need to read it!

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                    • At 2009.09.12 11:51, Jo-Jo said:

                      Thanks for the review. I haven’t read this one myself but definitely plan to sometime in the near future.

                      • At 2009.09.13 11:05, Alyce said:

                        I loved this one too! I’ve been reading Cleopatra’s Daughter, and it’s just as good as her previous books.

                        • At 2009.09.13 16:32, Marg said:

                          Michelle does have a really readable writing style doesn’t she! I am currently reading Cleopatra’s Daughter and enjoying it a lot too!

                          • At 2009.09.14 09:41, S. Krishna said:

                            I’m so glad you loved this one too! Michelle is such a talented author.

                            • At 2009.09.15 11:47, Fyrefly said:

                              I’ve had this on my pile for a while now, and I recently finished Moran’s new book, Cleopatra’s Daughter, which was great, and made me look forward to reading this one, too!

                              Prior to pretty recently, my only exposure to ancient Egypt was via Anne Rice. Actually, one of her stand-alone books, The Mummy, would work pretty well to bridge your new-found interest in Egypt and your older interest in England (Victorian England, in this case). I haven’t re-read it in a while, but it’s a historical romance with a little bit of mystery/thriller mentality, and I remember it being a ton of fun.

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                              • At 2009.09.19 21:10, Anna said:

                                I loved this book, too. You can’t go wrong with Michelle Moran, in my opinion.

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                                • […] read Michelle Moran’s first novel, Nefertiti, with my Facebook book club, Historical Fiction Lovers book club.  Nefertiti was our Queen of […]

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