Saturday, August 13, 2011
"Nefertiti", by Michelle Moran
Writing historical fiction set in the Eighteenth Dynasty, ancient Egypt, is a challenging endeavour and difficult to deliver. With a vivid imagination the author has created an interesting spin on a fascinating chapter in history. This is a dramatic tale of two unforgettable sisters one so beautiful she will attract the attention of all Egyptians.
The story is narrated by Mutnodjmet (Mutny), the younger (haft) sister of Nefertiti. She tells the story of how her beloved sister, a woman of exceptional beauty and great aspirations to power eventually marries and becomes the ruler of Egypt. It commences with the arranged marriage of fifteen year old Nefertiti to pharaoh Amunhotep IV, a young man with great plans that include changing the entire spiritual structure, ultimately making Aten (the sun disk) the center of worship. It was hoped the marriage would tone down Amunhotep’s vision but as fate would have it, Nefertiti had high ambitions of her own and like her husband wanted the complete support and adoration of the people. As we progress through the pages, we follow the struggle to change the course of politics and worship of the Egyptian population.
Strong family dynamics come to life within the main thread and we see double dealing, corruption and vengeance running ramped in the Royal court. It is the ultimate recipe for a Dynasty spiralling downward to a disastrous ending.
I enjoyed Ms. Moran’s version, she provides an exciting atmospheric story where the reader can almost see the sights, smell the scents and hear the sounds. Of all the characters I preferred Mutny, she is portrayed as a loveable and sympathetic person a complete contrast to her egocentric and unstable sister and the Pharaoh. I also found the unusual dynamic between the pharaoh and his daughters particularly interesting. Some may find the dialog to be a bit too simplistic but it made for a light and a refreshing summer read for the none purist.
The novel is highly fictionalized to make it entertaining so history critics should probably take a pass or take it for what it is.