A Crocodile on the Sandbank

On Tuesday, March 8 2016 I attended a book club meeting at the Collinsville Public Library. A few weeks before when visiting another library I had pick up a copy of Book Pages, a newsletter with reviews of books and upcoming events at the Tulsa County Libraries. I happened upon an event for the Collinsville Library on March 8th, a book club meeting. The book? A Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters.

Elizabeth Peters has been one of my favorite authors of fiction since I was a teenager. This book is the first in the Amelia Peabody series. It was merely by chance that I found the series. At a time when internet was still young and social media nonexistent, I had no idea that such a thrilling and witty heroine existed in (fictional) Egyptology.

It was my 16th birthday and I had visited a used bookstore after school with a friend. She wanted to get me a book for my birthday and she came across a book with an Egyptian temple and statue of Horus on the cover. She recognized these as symbols of ancient Egyptian, from being close to me. 🙂

When I got home and began reading the book, The Falcon at the Portal by Elizabeth Peters. I was surprised and amused to find out that the book was about a Victorian female Egyptologist, named Amelia. She was independent, intelligent, witty and sassy. And not to forget she was strong willed and…stubborn. 🙂 I quickly fell in love with the book.

I went on through the series from there then found out that the author Elizabeth Peters aka Barbara Mertz (her true name) had written two non-fiction Egyptology books: Temples, Tombs and Hieroglyphs and Red Land, Black Land. I found the non-fiction books quickly climb to the top of my list of favorites. They were so detailed and full of imagery that the facts and information flowed off of the pages as though you are witnessing everything laid out on those pages.

And I adored Barbara Mertz. She is very much responsible for my choosing Egyptology as a profession. Where as before discovering her works in fiction and non-fiction, I had merely wanted to be an “armchair Egyptologist”. Through her I found my calling.

I am indebted to Barbara, for I could never imagine a life without Egyptology. I only regret that I never had a chance to meet her or tell her how she helped me realize my passion and take the necessary steps towards my life and career in the field of Egyptology.

In recent months a friend and fellow Egyptology student had brought to my attention “Remembering Barbara” Blog/website and twitter dedicated to carrying on Barbara’s spirit. They have been doing an amazing job.

I attended this book club meeting, well more like crashed the meeting, because I wanted to hear what other’s thought of the series that was so dear to my heart and also so that I might write an article over the meeting that took place and comments on the book and author.

However that is not possible. I crashed the meeting and took over, not on purpose. There were 10 ladies in attendance plus the librarian. Myself and one other lady were new to the group and so they had decided we would go around and introduce ourselves. When it came to be my turn they all laughed since I shared a name with the heroine of the book, seeing that the name has not been very common for quite some time and yet I happened to have the same name they found it comical. They were absolutely delighted to learn that I was a student of Egyptology.

This is how I ended up taking over the meeting and turned it into an impromptu Egyptology lecture. They were very curious about what was fact and more about persons mentioned in the book that happened to have existed at the time of the book. They asked many questions about Egyptology and ancient Egypt. I was trilled to share my knowledge and also to share my love of the series.

At the end of the meeting the librarian had asked if I would be interested in giving a talk about Egyptology and a presentation of my time in field school in Egypt(field school is June 2016).


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