I'm taking a class on ancient Egyptian women, and I already knew about 1/3 of all the course material just from reading this book! It's a wonderful romance/spy novel with amazingly accurate historical detail and original, sympathetic characters. I recommend it for adults as well as teens - you definitely won't regret taking the time to read this story!
At the age of thirteen this was my absolute favorite book. The characters transcend the time period and it's amazingly easy to get into even if you're not a history nut. To this day I wish they'd make a movie of this. I'd strongly recommend it to people trying to encourage weak readers.
A WONDERFUL WONDERFUL BOOK!
I usually am a fantasy reader, but was giving this book as a gift and decided to read it. Very well written and the way McGraw intertwined things was very smart. It definitely is a read for older maybe 12/13 and up just because of the romance involved and it is a bit lengthy. This is one of my favorite books.
Mara is a proud and beautiful slave girl who yearns for freedom. In order to gain it, she finds herself playing the dangerous role of double spy for two arch enemies - each of whom supports a contender for the throne of Egypt.
Against her will, Mara finds herself falling in love with one her masters, the noble Sheftu, and she starts to believe in his plans of restoring Thutmose III to the throne. But, just when Mara is ready to offer Sheftu her help and her heart, her duplicity is discovered, and a battle ensues in which both Mara's life and the fate of Egypt are at stake.
Author: Eloise Jarvis McGraw
Setting: Ancient Egypt
"Look out for yourself my girl. Nobody else will."
The first time I met Mara, my mother sat down in the living room, cracked open a well-worn copy with the haunted picture of a lonely maid on the front cover, and began reading the story aloud to me and my little brothers and sisters right before bed. I am sure it was a pretty picture, all five of us cuddled up in thick, warm comforters, mugs of hot chocolate cradled in our little hands, wide-eyed listeners to a story of a land far away.
I don't know how many books my parents read aloud to me as a child. They are too numerous to count.
But one thing I do know.
Mara stuck with me.
Mara is proud. She is strong. She is witty. She lives in a world that is cruel and ruthless. She knows nothing of kindness and sympathy. And she pretends she needs none of it.
The character of Mara is solid flesh and blood. Her tears, her struggles, her victories, are living and breathing inside you. Her spirited fire and wit sends you into peals of laughter and keep you on pins and needles to find out how she will finagle her way out of the next peril. Danger is real. Mara flirts with death.
The things is, she knows it, and laughs in its face.
I have read almost all of Eloise Jarvis McGraws young adult fiction and have come to one conclusion. She uses a link to the emotions of her readers that is at once invisible and powerful. Every desire in her characters is a fire-breathing dragon in your belly. Her writing leaves you sitting up late, a flashlight clutched in a sweaty palm, glued to the pages. It is a style that captures sudden and permanent interest.
Mara, Daughter of the Nile, is written in a way that will never die. Her vivid descriptions of the cities, palace, river, and whole of Egypt settle you deep into the place where your characters live. You see The Silver Beetle, the ship that carried Mara on the Nile, you see the labyrinth of palace Hatshepsut calls her court, you see the inn where the rebels meet. You can almost reach out and touch the rooms where Mara lives.
Historically, the books is flawlessly accurate, allowing for some storyline liberation's (there was no little blue-eyed interpreter that saved the throne of Thutmose III). The very fact that history is sketchy of just what did happen between Hatshepsut and Thutmose proves what a masterful storyteller McGraw is. The Black Land is as real to us as it is to Mara and those trapped in that hot summer month where rebellion takes its final step.
Mara is not a romance book. I am not particularly fond of too perfect young men and weepy, desperate girls. The romantic angle of this book is both unusual and intriguing. And the story does not focus on the emotions beginning to stir in the hearts of the characters, but rather on what is bringing them together.
The real heart and soul behind Mara is found tucked in golden lines scattered throughout the book. This is a book about deciding what is worth fighting for, living for, and dieing for.
Mara is a book you will always find on my bookshelf. It is one to leave deep and lasting marks on your heart.
Read this during our Ancient Civilization study of Egypt. It was one that I read to my children a few chapters at a time. I snuck and finished it because I could not wait to see how it ended. My daughter took it and read it herself; over ten years later it is still her favorite book.
My mother gave me this book when I was studying ancient Egypt in middle school. Even after re-reading it every year for over 10 years, it still has me on the edge of my seat at the ending. The writing is that good.
"Mara" has everything a good book needs. Nuanced characters populate an immersive version of Ancient Egypt. With Mara acting as a double agent in a complex political plot, danger and mystery fill the pages. There's also a strong romantic plot, which features what may very well be the only romantic attempted murder in literary history.
The one thing that takes half a star off my rating is the fact that "Mara" is more fiction than historical fiction. Hatchepsut and Thutmose were real, but my readings into their lives indicate the plot to overthrow her never actually took place and she wasn't all that bad of a ruler. Still, if I'm forced to pick just one favorite book, this is often the one I choose.