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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Amelia Peabody for President!

by Anna Campbell

In September on Second Helping when I was talking about the marvelous SOULLESS by Gail Carriger, I mentioned how Alexia Tarabotti and Lord Maccon reminded me of Amelia Peabody and Radcliffe Emerson from CROCODILE ON THE SANDBANK by Elizabeth Peters. You can find the SOULLESS review here: http://www.theromancedish.com/2011/09/soulless-has-soul.html I thought it might be fun to visit the dangerous, dramatic, romantic Egypt of Amelia and Emerson today.

Although CROCODILE ON THE SANDBANK is billed as an Amelia Peabody mystery, I'd firmly put this book in the romance camp. There is much mayhem and derring do but the main thrust of the story is the funny, awkward, touching relationship that develops between two clever, prickly, self-willed people who long ago decided romantic love will never be part of their lives.

Here's the opening:

When I first set eyes on Evelyn Barton-Forbes she was walking the streets of Rome--

(I am informed, by the self-appointed Critic who reads over my shoulder as I write, that I have already committed an error. If those seemingly simple Enlgish words do indeed imply that which I am told they imply to the vulgar, I must in justice to Evelyn find other phrasing.)

In justice to myself, however, I must insist that Evelyn was doing precisely what I have said she was doing, but with no ulterior purpose in mind. Indeed, the poor girl had no purpose and no means of carrying it ouf it she had. Our meeting was fortuitous, but fortunate. I had, as I have always had, purpose enough for two.


You immediately know that you're reading a book written in the high Victorian style (Reader, I married him!). You can also tell that you're in for a lot of fun - and that's true as well. One of the great pleasures of this book is the sly humor.

Purpose enough for two describes bluestocking spinster Amelia Peabody to a T. She's a lovable monster who inherits a fortune from her vicar father and sets out to see the world on her own terms. She's self-willed, self-confident, pushy, but kind-hearted, generous and often perceptive When she crosses swords with shaggy, cranky archaeologist Radcliffe Emerson who until now has only been interested in women dead for 3,000 years, unexpected sparks fly. It's a joy watching these two clever people maneuver around each other and then find themselves maneuvered into a lifelong passion.

The story is a bit silly but that's part of the fun too. When Amelia rescues ruined and forsaken runaway heiress Evelyn Barton-Forbes from a curious Italian crowd at the Forum in Rome and decides to employ her as a companion on her voyage to Egypt, little does she know the adventures in store. Passion, cads and bounders, danger, cobras, stalking mummies, native superstitions and more await our intrepid heroine before she gets her happy ending.

As befits a story published in 1975, this book falls into the old-fashioned romance category. There's no explicit sex and the passion is mostly constrained behind stiff upper lips. Which makes it surprisingly powerful when it does escape! But the story is clever and witty and packed with incident and as I said, the romance is great fun. Not only that, but Evelyn finds romance too so you get two love stories for the price of one. What more could a budding Egyptologist want?

I've always had a very soft spot for books set in the late 19th century in Egypt. Two of my all-time favorite romances are AS YOU DESIRE by Connie Brockway and MR. IMPOSSIBLE by Loretta Chase. This one forms an honorable third in that glorious list. Seriously, if you want a couple of hours of sheer enjoyment, pick up CROCODILE ON THE SANDBANK.

Do you like playing in exotic climes when you read romances? Do you like intellectual heroes? Who's your favorite feisty heroine? Have you ever been chased by a mummy (the bandaged not the maternal kind)? Did you manage to escape?

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

59 comments:

  1. Amelia is my all time favorite. I own the entire series, and they would be my desert island reads.

    And talk about romance...when Amelia and Emerson's son Ramses grows up...wow. His own road to romance is twisted, tortured, and so satisfying.

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  2. Anna, I do love the occasional exotic clime, as you put it. I read all the early entries in this series, and I loved the tone and the archaeological themes.

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  3. Hi, Anna! This sound like a lot of fun! I recently read (and loved) Mr Impossible, this book sounds right up my alley.

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  4. Now you are talking about my favourite archaelogists! (You may recall a certain Mr. B and myself appeared at a fancy dress party dressed as the Emersons and a certain Ms. Gracie came as the Crocodile on the Sandbank...I have pictures). I have listened to the whole series on audiobook read by Barbara Rozenblat who just brought the characters to life!
    As Gillian says, the romance between Ramses and Nefret is a true romance with an eventual HEA. I am, personally, absolutely smitten with Ramses (but don't tell Mr. B!)
    I am in awe of Peters' in depth knowledge of Egyptian archaeology.

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  5. Hey, Gillian, lovely to see you here. And how cool you're an Amelia P fan. My crit partner Annie West put me onto her and I loved this book. Must get the rest. Love the titles - The Last Camel Died at Noon!

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  6. Nancy, somehow I'm not surprised you liked these books. I can imagine Amelia talking for hours about the Plantagenets ;-) 19th century Egypt is such a fun setting, isn't it? I want MORE! Mind you, I noticed that the review before this one on the Dishes is Connie Brockway's sequel to AS YOU DESIRE, also set in Egypt. Perhaps there's a fashion starting!

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  7. Vanessa, so glad you enjoyed Mr. Impossible. I've actually got it sitting at my elbow. I use it to demonstrate really brilliant use of close point of view writing and I'm running a workshop tomorrow. I'll be reading that luscious first kiss to the group.

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  8. Ooh, now I've GOT to read the other books in the series. Must pull my finger out. So many books, so little time! Yes, I fondly remember you and your lovely husband and that sneaky croc on the sandbank. Ms. Gracie was spectacular as the lurking maneater. I'm glad you two survived the adventure! ;-)

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  9. Elizabeth Peters' Amelia Peabody novels are favorites of mine also. Love Amelia, Emerson, and their son, Ramses. I think Elizabeth Peters fell in love with her own creation - Ramses - he's such a hottie as a young man. As Gillian said: wow!
    All her books are fun! Try her Vicky Bliss and Jacqueline Kirby books also.

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  10. Anna, how terrific that you've blogged about Amelia's first book. I remember telling you about how wonderful it was and hoping you'd enjoy it. You must read some of the others. Such a glorious hoot. Amelia is so opinionated and bossy but we still want her to come up trumps.

    I don't know what it is about the setting but that Victorian era plus the setting have such romanticism imbued in them. Loved the other books you mention, especially 'Mr Impossible'. You should try the Vicky Bliss mystery that's set there too (modern setting but still Luxor). Can't remember the name but lots of fun. Hope you find time soon to explore some more of these. Actually, rather than Amelia for President, what about Emerson for Emperor. Now, that would be fun.

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  11. Lovely review Anna! As you know, the Amelia Peabody mysteries are among my favourite books of all time. I'd recommend listening to the magnificent audio versions read by Barbara Rosenblatt, too. I happen to think Elizabeth Peters writes amazing romances and it's a great reminder of how powerful the sensual tension can be. Thanks for the chance to revel in these books again!

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  12. Winnie, I clearly NEED to check out Ramses for my own health ;-) I read a Vicky Bliss book but it was well on in the series so I think I need to go back and start at the beginning. I'm a Virgo - I like to do things in order!

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  13. Emerson for Emperor? And clearly it should be Ramses for Rajah! Thanks for swinging by, Annie. And thanks for pointing me in the direction of this lovely story. I really MUST read the others. You're right - there's something so romantic about Egypt in the golden days of heroic archaeology.

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  14. Christine, I've actually been on a mystery kick lately so I'm getting used to doors being closed on the bedroom - not that I'm encouraging such subversive behaviour, mind you! But as you say, the sexual tension in this just sizzled. And Emerson used to get SOOOO grumpy the further he fell in love. It was gorgeous to watch.

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  15. Great article, Anna. I do love all things Egypt since I visited there in the 70's. Such an incredible history of dynasties and fallen pharoahs and general wickedness alongside poverty.

    I must confess to not having read the Amelia Peabody stories -- shame on me! -- but your assessment may make me reconsider!

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  16. Oh, yes, I've been chased by a mummy, along with ghosts, goblins, and witches. In my nightmares, of course. As a child I had a vivid imagination!

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  17. I read CROCODILE ON THE SANDBANK not that long ago. I loved it. I do enjoy a heroine who is intelligent & a bit feisty. An archeological dig is a fabulous setting for a story.

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  18. I love exotic climes.but most of all I love "bad boys" in exotic climes.

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  19. Yet another series to read. Off to Amazon right now. I've had my eye on this one for a while

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  20. Hi Anna, and Happy Thanksgiving to you, too! I just finished re- reading Connie Brockway's new release,"The Other Guy's Bride." I'd had the honor of receiving an early copy. So first I went back and reread "As You Desire" did a fast read of TOGB in order to be able to comment on it here and in other reviews. Finally, I went back to take my time and really savor this brilliant book.

    I'm telling you all this so you will know much I enjoyed your review today (as well as the one you did for "Soulless"). For me just coming from an enchanting immersion in Brockway Egyptology was perfectly timed.

    I read and very much enjoy almost all Romance genres. However, I had lately fallen into a Regency Rut. I still love them, but to answer your question I am now ready to mix it up a little! I'm going to start with Victorian Vampires, Steampunk and meet Ms. Peabody to continue my fascination with Egypt. Thanks for the push of your terrific reviews!

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  21. I have almost all of the Amelia Peabody stories and Emerson would definitely have to be my first love. (there's a hint there to how old I am!) I love how Ms Peters combines romance, adventure, mystery, humour and history to make such very enjoyable stories. They have pride of place on my bookshelf.

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  23. This sounds like enormous fun, Anna! I'm going to have to hunt up a copy!

    You've already converted me to a firm Loretta Chase fan so I'm sure I'll enjoy Crocodile on the Sandbank!

    :)
    Sharon

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  24. Hi Anna! You're not the first to recommend this series to me. I do have a few of the Amelia books in my tbr, though not this one. Like you, my fellow Virgo, I insist on reading a series in order. Especially a series with so many books already published. I want to savor the journey from the beginning! :)

    I don't mind exotic climes at all.
    Chase's Mr. Impossible and Brockway's As You Desire are two of my favorites (The Other Guy's Bride just arrived!) and I loved Zoe Archer's Blades of the Rose series with their array of settings.

    As for feisty heroines, Cara Elliott has a wonderfully feisty heroine, Lady Alexa Bingham, in her recently released Too Wicked to Wed, not to mention a wickedly delicious hero! ::grin::

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  25. Oh, Anna, I ADORE the Amelia Peabody series! Elizabeth Peters is one of the authors who made me want to be a writer. Humor, adventure mystery, all mixed with wonderful characters. All the books have an honored spot on my Keeper Shelf.

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  26. PJ, yes, read them in order! I guess they stand alone, but I can't imagine not enjoying the ride from start to finish...and as you go along, so much of their family history (adventures) are referred to in each book...yes, in order, definitely.

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  27. Oh, Anna, these sound so good! You have a gift for "selling" them to others. :) I'll have to look this series up.

    And I do enjoy the occasional exotic setting, too. FLAWLESS by Carrie Lofty comes to mind as a recent one that I've read and loved.

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  28. crocodile.. ooo... scare and hate but ofcourse not with this book ;)

    lovely review Anna, thanks ;)

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  29. Happy Thanksgiving my online friends!

    I do love a feisty heroine myself, I have been reading some Georgette Heyer and she had some feisty ones in her repertoire. I am really liking Serena Carlowe right now....LOL Ask me tomorrow and I will have a new fav.

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  30. Jo, I really enjoyed this. As I think is pretty clear. It's great fun. And the romance is lovely. Highly recommended, especially someone with a soft spot for archaeology.

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  31. Snort, Jo! You're the first person to admit to exiting, pursued by a mummy. I had a huge imagination when I was a kid too and mummies are kinda creepy.

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  32. Mary, so glad you've discovered these stories. What I need to do now and read the rest of them.

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  33. Ooh, bad boys, Gail? Actually the hero(es) of COTS aren't really bad boys. More unworldly but capable of stepping up to the plate as men of action when required. The rakish types in this are pretty rotten, actually. Cads and blackguards to the core!

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  34. Keziah, I'm surprised you haven't read these. You seem to be ahead of me with a lot of these wonderful books and you give me such great advice on what to read. I think you'll love Amelia!

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  35. Flora, thanks so much for saying how much you enjoyed the review! That's always lovely to hear. I suspect Gail C's references to umbrellas and Alexia's general bolshiness were partly influenced by Amelia, in that fun knowing way that's always great to read. I'm really looking forward to reading THE OTHER GUY'S BRIDE. Don't have an e-reader so I have to wait for it to come out in print (sheesh, ten years ago, do you think I would have been saying that?). I love Connie's books. Have you read her two contemporaries set in Minnesota? They're hilarious, especially the first one which hinges on a stolen butter sculpture.

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  36. Suzanne, this book very much reminded me of books I used to read as a teenager. Getting English books was much easier than American books and this had a bit of the flavor of something like a Mary Stewart or a Victoria Holt. No hot heavy love scenes but plenty of sexual tension and some genuine historical information that I always find interesting. And this book is funnier than either MS or VH!

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  37. Actually, Sharon, now I think about it, I think you'd find these right up your alley. You know Annie loves them! And Annie has great taste.

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  38. Hi PJ! Happy Thanksgiving, my lovely friend! Definitely give this a go. I think you'll like it. I've got Cara's latest in the TBR pile - did you know she writes really great historical mysteries (with a very nice romance thrown in to add to the spice) under Andrea Penrose? Really dishy hero!

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  39. Gillian, thanks for the hint about reading in order. I think that's one of the joy of series, seeing how the characters and relationships change through time. I am hying me to the Book Depository as we speak!

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  40. Andrea, Happy Thanksgiving to you too! Thank you for including me as part of the Romance Dish family. Oh, that's interesting about Flawless. I haven't read it. Just looked it up. South Africa? Definitely exotic climes! And thanks for saying you enjoy the reviews. They're always fun to do - I love sharing books I've enjoyed with you!

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  41. Eli, actually the crocodile is in a love poem - he's the barrier between the lovers. So he's kinda romantic. For a CROCODILE!

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  42. Dianna, GH definitely had some feisty heroines. I can't remember Serena - I'm slowly re-reading them. Hmm, remembering that's a project that needs to continue, it's halted in its tracks a little bit lately. Mary from Devil's Cub is incredibly strong and so are Sophie and Frederica.

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  43. Hi again, Anna. I'm loving this post today, I don't have to cook so I have time to catch up with my favorite authors and sites. I have read Connie's contemporary books and they are as wonderful as her historicals. I am a huge fan of her work and had the opportunity of meeting her at NYC/RWA 2011. I also met several more of my favorite writers and TRD's own PJ ! I hope I have a chance to meet you as well if you will be attending RWA 2012 in Anaheim.

    Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to tell you and my fellow bloggers that you don't need an eReader to get Comnie's (or any other) eBook. All you need to do is to download any or several of the FREE Kindle Apps for other devices: PC, MAC, iPad,iPhone and many more. I read my copy on my iPhone. Don't delay the gratification of reading TOGB because you don't have an eReader yet!

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  44. Happy Thanksgiving from the states! Love me some amelia and Radcliffe. Love their son, Ramses too. :>

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  45. Thanks, Flora! Connie's lovely, isn't she? I've only met her once but she was as funny and quirky in real life as she is in her books. Actually I have to say I'm surprised at how many comments I've got here - thought Thanksgiving would keep everybody tied up to the turkey! Nice to have a chat about such a fun book. Not sure if I'll make Anaheim. I hope to but I've got a reader convention in Berlin in June and sometime next year, you know, I gotta write a book! ;-)

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  46. Jeanne, I didn't know you were a fan! How cool! And yes, I've already realized I need to make Ramses's close acquaintance!

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  47. Happy Thanksgiving, Anna and everyone!
    Anna, you don't have to wait for TOGB to get to print. You can get the free Kindle app to read on your computer or other device:
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html/ref=sa_menu_karl3?ie=UTF8&docId=1000493771

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  48. Thanks, Winnie. There's something relaxing for me about curling up with an actual book - I'm a luddite!

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  49. Hello Anna and Happy Thanksgiving to all the Dishers!

    Took a break from cooking to sneak a peak at your blog today.

    This sounds delightful and I think I might fall in love with Radcliffe Emerson. Smart and sexy, sort of absent-minded-professor types are my cup of tea. (I married one!) They remind me of Cary Grant's character in Bringing Up Baby and Indiana Jones. Love them!!

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  50. Suzanne, happy Thanksgiving, my Bandita sister! I must say I'm getting hungry seeing all the Facebook posts about what people are eating. Yeah, I have a soft spot for sexy absent-minded professor heroes too. There's something inherently attractive about a clever man ;-)

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  51. Wow! It's been busy in here today. You do know how to bring people out of the woodwork, Anna!

    I'm home from my nephew's house, satisfyingly stuffed with turkey and all the trimmings. It was a lovely day. If you have a chance, check out the new video on my facebook page. My 5 yr old grandniece sang her thanks (unprompted)for our servicemen and women at the dinner table today. I was in tears by the time she finished.

    Now I'm off to bed at the ridiculous hour of 6pm because of our crazy tradition of getting up in the middle of the night for Black Friday sales here in the US. I have to report for work at about the time I'd normally be going to bed and smile while waiting on frenzied holiday shoppers for 12 delightful hours. Oh joy! :)

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  52. PJ, isn't she a darling? I'm impressed she got that high note. I've heard brave men crack on that! Oh, dear, doesn't sound like a fun day ahead. Easter Thursday used to be like that for people in retail/banking here. Oh, well, at least when you're busy, the day goes fast. Thanks for letting me visit today and talk about such a fun book!

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  53. Anna, I keep hearing so much about the Amelia books---must add them to my TBR pile. Of course, given the vast number of books already in it---I have multiple shelves of TBR books!---I might need to clone myself to get my reading done. *sigh*

    I do enjoy an exotic setting in a book. Variety is the spice of life, right? *g*

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  54. Gannon, I hear you on having to clone yourself to read everything in the TBR pile. I must say that Ramses has drawn me in in everyone's comments so I might just order some more Amelia books. This one was such fun. Happy Thanksgiving! xxx

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  55. Thanks, guys, for a great chat. See you all next month! x

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  56. Anna, Serena was the heroine in Bath Tangle

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  57. Oh, Dianna, how interesting. That was probably going to be my next choice. Must order it!

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  58. Hi Anna
    Sorry to be so late in visiting. I wasn't aware of the Amelia Peabody books but they sound like a lot of fun. Definitely something I'd like to read!
    I love exotic settings and Egypt in particular.
    I have the new Connie Brockway on the TBR pile for over the holidays.

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  59. Kandy, I would have thought you'd know all about Amelia Peabody. She really strikes me as your sort of gal. Smart. Determined. Resourceful. I really think you'd like these books!

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