Friday, November 18, 2011
Whispers in the Sand by Barbara Erskine
"Whispers in the Sand is set in richly mysterious Egypt where the past and present collide. Recently divorced, Anna Fox decides to cheer herself up by retracing a journey her great-grandmother made in the nineteenth century: a Nile cruise from Luxor to the Valley of the Kings. Anna carries with her on the voyage two mementoes of her great-grandmother Louisa: an ancient Egyptian scent bottle and the diary of that original Nile cruise which has lain unread for a hundred years. As she follows in Louisa's footsteps, Anna discovers in the diary the chilling secret of the scent bottle and is pursued by the same terrifying spectres as her great grandmother."
I'm very happy that Sourcebooks has been reissuing some of Barbara Erskine's titles in the US as I've had to shop for some of her older books in used bookstores and/or online from the UK (with high shipping prices!) So thanks, Sourcebooks - keep them coming!
Barbara Erskine is known for her fascinating historical fiction storylines in her books with supernatural forces and time-slip. However, I feel her contemporary characters and storylines are sometimes weak and often detract from the enjoyment of the novel. If she could work on getting the contemporary aspects of her novels tweaked, her books would be greatly improved! (The men in the present day can be condescending and chauvinistic, women are often near hysteria, and at least one character is certifiably the Most Annoying Person on the Planet!)
Having said all that, I enjoyed aspects of Whispers in the Sand, and the star of the show was the charming Victorian love story as told through a one-hundred-year-old diary. Erskine's descriptions of a young woman's experiences in ancient Egypt and the Victorian-era cruise along the Nile was intriguing and very poignant. I almost feel that the historical story could have been a stand alone book (without the present day story) and it would have been just fine.
Not Erskine's best and certainly not as atmospheric and suspenseful as some of her other books (i.e. House of Echoes), but still a pleasant read.
Title: Whispers in the Sand
Author: Barbara Erskine
genre: historical fiction/time slip