9780140278156 / 014027815X

Child of the Morning


Publisher:Viking Penguin


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About the book:

Queen Hatshepsut ruled over Egypt in the early 15th century B.C. Although it couldn't have been easy holding a position for which being a man was part of the job description, she reigned for over 20 years, erecting many large monuments and skilfully manipulating the religion-based propaganda that underpinned the ancient Egyptian state. Only an Iron Lady, an ancient Margaret Thatcher, could have pulled it off.

Not according to Pauline Gedge in her classic historical romance, Child of the Morning. A beautiful dreamer, Daddy's little girl, the princess and later queen of wants nothing more than to commune with the gods and the beauties of nature and listen to the hymns sung to her every morning as the daughter of the sun. With her lover Senmut and a band of loyal followers, she brings a golden age of peace and prosperity to Egypt: "She smiled ... while the wig was lifted and settled on her head and the Cobra Coronet was slipped into place. She was changed into a Goddess, the golden, shining symbol of a golden, shining country." If such a story does not square with current interpretations of the admittedly meagre historical evidence surrounding Hatshepsut's reign, it matters not at all to those readers who have made Gedge's queen their inspiration and role model. Apart from the obligatory scenes of exotic but tasteful sex, this Alberta Novel Award winner still offers a vivid dream of female realization and a convincing imaginary world. Hatshepsut's engaging character drives the plot in a way not found in Gedge's later, turgid offerings such as The Scroll of Saqqara and The Hippopotamus Marsh. --Robyn Gillam

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