THE SACRED RIVER – Wendy Wallace
Since she was seven years old, Harriet Heron fought for every breath. She grew up in near seclusion, seldom leaving her room on the nursery floor. She was well cared for physically considering the times and dosed with every new concoction. She amused herself mainly with books, many of them about Egypt, with which she became fascinated. Harriet knew she was destined to die young, but at twenty-three she made up her mind to really live while she could. The poisonous London fog made it extraordinarily hard for her the breathe, so when she learned that there was a chance for her to get better in a warm, dry climate such as Egypt's, she convinced her doctor to recommend she be taken there. Her parents agreed that she and her mother should go after the Yuletide, but since her father couldn't leave the bank, he ordered his spinster sister to go with them; they could stay in the house the bank owns in Alexandria.
Thus begins the journey of the three ladies Heron: Harriet; her mother Louisa, and her father's sister Yael. Their adventures already begin on the ship, continue in Alexandria, where the weather was not conducive to good health, then to Cairo, and on up the Nile to Luxor, where Harriet begins to thrive. Louisa, however, because of a young man met on the boat, suffers from long suppressed memories of her youth.
The young man, an artist named Eyre Soane, is an important character who provides a strong element of suspense. Then there is German Egyptologist Eberhardt Woolfe…
THE SACRED RIVER is not a light read. It delves deeply into the characters of the three ladies and how Egypt wreaks fundamental changes in them as they sink deeply into the land, its history, culture and its people. This is especially true of Harriet and Yael; Louisa must fight to come to terms with her own history. The author presents a vivid background for the story until Egypt, itself, comes alive.
With its strong characters and rich plot, THE SACRED RIVER cannot leave a reader indifferent.