Nutshell blurb: Nefertiti marries the pharaoh Amunhotep (who later changes his name to Akhenaten when he founds a new religion) and this is the story of their life together.
I love reading stories of Egyptian history. (Both fiction and non-fiction.) Reading these stories conjures up vibrant images of what people lived like back then. It’s both mysterious and romantic. I’ve always had a particular interest in Egyptian mythology and it was these stories that made me want to be an archaeologist when I was a kid. (Well, those and the Indiana Jones films, if I’m honest.) My dreams died a horrible death with the thought that by the time I was old enough to actually become an archaeologist, everything, especially all of the Egyptian stuff, would have been unearthed/discovered by then. So what was the point? Imagine my chagrin upon recently reading of the new things that have been found during in Egypt during this decade. *sigh* I was such a dumb kid…
Anyway, back to the book. This story is told from the point of view of Nefertiti’s sister, Mutnodjmet, as Nefertiti ascends the throne and insinuates herself as the chief wife of Akhenaten. Akhenaten founds a new religion that puts aside all of the other gods and demands the worship of Aten only. As you can imagine, this was upsetting to many people, as it would be if someone was messing with their religion. He upsets the apple cart further by ousting the priests and taking their money away from them. This is considered heresy and the result was that he was terrified of being assassinated.
The thing that I didn’t like about this book was the portrayal of Nefertiti. She is spoiled, self-centred, willful and manipulative. In fact, I kind of hated her. It made me wonder what she was really like. I love the bust of Nefertiti. It’s absolutely gorgeous and I want to believe only good things about her. It’s a bit simplistic to think that just because someone is beautiful in a sculpture, she must have been a beautiful person in life. I’m sure that Michelle Moran did her research and had reasons for portraying her this way and it worked in the story. But frankly, I wanted to slap Nefertiti.
I really liked Mutnodjmet and could relate to her. She was portrayed as being very humble and loyal even though she was always shunted to the side in favour of her sister. The book also tells us of Tutankhamen’s beginning. The story is beautiful and well told. The writing is gorgeous. Even though I didn’t really like how Nefertiti was portrayed, I really loved this story and I’m looking forward to reading more of Michelle Moran’s work. This has also inspired me to read more works of non-fiction about Egyptian history.