Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Feeling a little bereft

I have spent the past few months rereading the entire Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters. The reason? It had been a long time since I had read them and I was looking for something to read one night. I think it was also because I discovered a while back, thanks to a blog reader, that Barbara Mertz, the woman behind the pen name Elizabeth Peters, had recently died. (Last August, at the age of 85, for those who care.)

I love Amelia Peabody. Sometimes I think I want to be Amelia Peabody when I grow up. She is self-confident, doesn't really care what people think of her, and has a sense of fearless adventure. The books, which do not try to be fine literature, are well-written and done slightly tongue-in-cheek. I will also say, I don't really read them for the actual mystery, but for the story of the Emerson family which unfolds in their pages. Since the 19 books cover nearly 40 years of time, from the mid-1860's to after World War 1, it is quite a bit of time to get to know a family. My rereading has also spurred M. on to doing the same thing, so it's nice to have someone else to talk to about them. Between us, we own all the books.

But now, I've finished them. Closing the cover on the last book feels a little like losing a good friend. This is especially true when you know the author won't be writing any more. Sniff. It makes it a little difficult to decide what to read next. (I think I've solved that problem with deciding to reread the Vicky Bliss series by the same author. There are fewer books and it will be a good way to wean myself off.)

I think lots of other people should read them, too. They're light and fun and a great distraction from the harder things of life. Because the family grows and ages in the books, and there are a number of recurring characters, it helps to read them chronologically. Plus, Elizabeth Peters wrote a couple of books which go back in time and fill in some gaps. I read them in order of publication, but I think it would make more sense to read those books in their appropriate chronological order. Plus, that makes the last book read a much stronger finish to the series.

It's easy enough to find the order of the books, but I'll write them out here for your ease. Plus, then I'll have it for in the future when I want to reread them yet again. (The links are my Amazon Associates account. If you want to order through it, I appreciate the extra change it generates.)

Crocodile on the Sandbank

The Curse of the Pharaohs

The Mummy Case

Lion in the Valley

The Deeds of the Disturber

The Last Camel Died at Noon

The Snake, the Crocodile & the Dog

The Hippopotamus Pool

Seeing a Large Cat

The Ape Who Guards the Balance

Guardian of the Horizon (this is one of the later books, inserted into its correct place in the chronology)

River in the Sky (ibid)

The Falcon at the Portal

He Shall Thunder in the Sky

Lord of the Silent

The Golden One

Children of the Storm

The Serpent on the Crown

Tomb of the Golden Bird


Diana said...

Thanks for the recommendation, I put the first one on my list at the library!

Robyn said...

Would they be good for a voracious 7 year old who reads at a 5th grade level? It's like shoveling coal into a hot furnace, keeping this kid in books. (Great problem to have!) He's the one who read ALL TWELVE Swallows and Amazons books last year.

thecurryseven said...


I wouldn't think a 7yo would be interested. While they are fairly clean, there is a little inuendo (between married persons), and there are some murders. Plus, I just think the themes are more appropriate and interesting to older teens and adults.

Voracious/precocious young readers can be a challenge, though. I've certainly had my share. Has he read the Little Britches series yet? Freddy the Pig is fun and has a lot of books, too. If he loved Swallows, you might also try giving him Captain's Courageous by Rudyard Kipling. Oh, and one of my precocious readers loved The King of Ireland's Son by Padraic Colum.


Robyn said...

Awesome! I hadn't heard of either of the series, or the King of Ireland's Son. As for Kipling, we've read part of The Jungle Book and many of the Just So Stories (out loud, to the 7 year old and his 5 year old brother), and I wonder whether Captains Courageous might be a good read-aloud too.

To return the favor, our boy also adored all the Wizard of Oz books and enjoyed the Edward Eager Tales of Magic series.

And we love Elizabeth Enright's Melendy books as read-alouds. At our church family camp last summer, I read _The Four-Story Mistake_, over a period of five afternoon "quiet hours", to a half dozen wiggly five-to-eight-year-olds. They were enthralled -- they even voted to spend an extra half hour listening to the end of the book at the end of the last session.

thecurryseven said...

The Four Story Mistake was one of my favorite books from children. I still have dreams of finding a secret and forgotten room in a house I'm living in.


Evie said...

Have you read Dorothy Cannell? I discovered her through a review or something similar of her by Elizabeth Peters; apparently they loved each other's books. You need to start at the beginning of the series to appreciate the main character, but I think they are hilarious. The first book is The Thin Woman.

Lady Anne said...

I only read one of Elizabeth Peters books - can't remember which one, now - and that only by accident. It was good, but I much preferred Ellis Peter's Brother Cadfael series. He is (was?) a monk in England in the 1100s, during the war between Stephen and Maude. A good detective story, and always a romance in the back ground. But NOT involving the good friar! Alas, Ellis is also dead now. Maybe I'll give Elizabeth another shot.

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