Nefertiti by Michelle Moran
Paperback, 496 pages
May 27, 2008
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Personal Collection
"The sweeping story of a powerful Egyptian family, Nefertiti: A Novel tells the tale of two sisters, the first of whom is destined to rule as one of history’s most fascinating queens.
Beautiful Nefertiti and her sister, Mutnodjmet, have been raised far from the court of their aunt, the Queen of Egypt. But when the Pharaoh of Egypt dies, their father’s power play makes Nefertiti wife to the new and impetuous king. It is hoped she will temper King Amunhotep’s desire to overturn Egypt’s religion, but the ambitious Nefertiti encourages Amunhotep’s outrageous plans instead, winning the adoration of the people while making powerful enemies at court. Younger yet more prudent, Mutnodjmet is her sister’s sole confidant, and only she knows to what lengths Nefertiti will go for a child to replace the son of Amunhotep’s first wife.
As King Amunhotep’s commands become more extravagant, he and Nefertiti ostracize the army, clergy, and Egypt’s most powerful allies. Then, when Mutnodjmet begins a dangerous affair with a general, she sees how tenuous her situation is at her own sister’s court. An epic story that resurrects ancient Egypt in vivid detail."Being as big of an Ancient Egypt fan as I am a Tudor fan I had lofty expectations for this book, and was blown away by how well written it was. Nefertiti becomes Queen to one of the craziest Pharaoh's Egypt has seen and raises herself up higher than any women ever had. The story follows her through her life from her home in Akhmim, to the changing court of Amarna, and finally back to the traditional court of Thebes.
The story is told from the perspective of Nefertiti's younger sister Mutnodjmet as she walks the line between her family's ambitions, the increasingly erratic behavior of the Pharaoh, and her own desires to have a husband and family. If you think Tudor politics were bad, check out what happened in Egypt under the rule of Pharaoh Akhenaten! According to the author, the story is told from the sister's perspective because you can feel more for her, whereas Nefertiti is difficult to feel sympathy for. I have to slightly disagree with this. I definitely felt connected to the story of Mutnodjmet and all that she went through in her life: there were times that I cried and times that were funny. By the time I got to the end of the story I felt very strongly for Nefertiti and she even evoked a few tears.
This book was very well researched and all aspects of Egyptian life are well described: gods, religious practices, food, lifestyle, gardens, palaces, homes, city life, people, etc. It's important to note that as this is historical fiction some facts, people, and places have been changed for easier flow of the story or understanding of the reader, but the author does a fine job of detailing this in the back of the book as well as on her website.
I would HIGHLY recommend this book to anyone interested in Egyptian history. It is well researched and fun to read. I cannot wait to read the sequel, The Heretic Queen.
Michelle Moran also has written The Heretic Queen, Cleopatra's Daughter, and Madame Tussaud. You can visit Michelle's website for additional information about the books. If you would like to preview the story before reading it, why not try out this excerpt of the book? There is also a great Q&A with the author about the book.
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