Nefertiti (& a giveaway)!
It’s not very often that I start a review with the word “excellent” but in this case I just can’t resist. After reading Nefertiti, a fast paced and utterly absorbing historical fiction novel written by Michelle Moran, I just new that this was a winner. The story is of two sisters, Nefertiti and Mutnodjmet, who each play a part in a high stakes political game over 3,500 years ago in ancient Egypt. Nefertiti has been chosen to marry the Pharoah Amunhotep, a hot-tempered, unstable ruler. It is the hope that Nefertiti can temper her husband and help him avoid any political mistakes. Nefertiti though is ambicious and placates her husband when he talks of forsaking the Egyptian God Amun and worshiping the sun God, Aten. They move to a new city, which they plan to build with the use of their Army, temples to Aten and statues of themselves. In the meantime, her younger sister Mutnodjmet is used by her father as a spy who ultimately compromises her own beliefs to preserve Nefertiti’s place as the next queen of Egypt.
The novel itself is atmospheric and descriptive.
She looked at herself in the mirror as Thutmose came up behind her. He raised the flat-topped crown so all of us could see it, then fit the burden tightly around Nefertiti’s head. No one else could have worn it. It had been designed for her, tall and slender with an asp ready to spit poison into her enemies’ eyes. Nefertiti turned around, and if I had been a peasant in the fields, I would have thought I was staring into the face of a goddess.
No doubt there will be many comparisons between this book and another well known historical fiction novel, The Other Boleyn Girl (you can see my review here) most likely due to the ambitious nature of both Ann Boleyn and Nefertiti, and yet this novel stands on it’s own as a great piece of fiction. What I loved about this book, and realize that only a skilled writer could pull off, is the character of Nefertiti. Yes, she is portrayed as a power-hungry, hardened, dare I say “bitchy” woman who will do anything to retain the crown, and yet there is a vulnerability to her that makes you see that yes, like the rest of us, she is just human. In the end, even though the author portrayed Nefertiti in not the most flattering light, I was sympathetic to her character and found myself saddened at the moment of her death. Now that is good writing!
On a side note, as I was reading this book I came upon this picture of Angelina Jolie over at Hooked on Houses and immediately thought that the picture has a striking similarity to the book cover. Could Nefertiti have been reincarnated into Angelina? 🙂
Michelle Moran is realeasing her next novel, The Heretic Queen, this September and will follow up with Cleopatra’s Daughter in 2009. Be sure to check out her website for more information. She also has a wonderful section on her site full of photographs of her travels, which include famous Egyptian artifacts. Also, check out Iliana’s post about the book and her trip to Berlin, where she actually got to see the bust of Nefertiti!
Now for the giveaway – if this novel sounds interesting to you and you would like to win a copy of the book, please leave a comment here by midnight EST time on Monday, June 23rd and you will automatically be entered to win a copy of Nefertiti. For an even better chance to win, post about this contest on your own blog (linking back to this post) and your name will be entered twice! I will announce the winner on Tuesday the 24th and will post a Q&A session with Michelle Moran at that time. Good luck!