One thing I really want to do more of these days is read, and since I got my netbook and an account at Fictionwise.com. I’ve read four books so far since Christmas, and while that may not seem like a lot, that’s way up from last year’s reading, as least as far as fiction goes. I regularly read computer graphics magazines and skim through tech manuals, but that’s not enough to satisfy my soul. I’m a fiction writer, so I need to be a fiction reader, too. Besides, I love reading too much and have been jonesing for some good stories to devour.
Right now, I’m enjoying Elizabeth Peter’s ‘The Mummy Case.’ This is the third book in the Amelia Peabody books, one of my favorite mystery series. The stories are all set in Egypt at the turn of the century. Amelia Peabody and her archeologist husband, Radcliffe Emerson, delve into the mysteries of ancient Egypt while dealing with contemporary crimes. This particular case involves the murder of an illegal antiquities dealer, Protestant missionaries raising havoc with the Muslim populace, and a Roman style cemetary in Coptic Egypt. And of course, the titular mummy case, which appears and vanishes repeatedly throughout the tale.
One of the best things about the Amelia Peabody series is the relationship between Peabody and her husband Emerson. They almost never address each other by first name, but prefer the affectionate use of last names instead. Peabody is a strong-willed, educated woman in a time period where woman were expected to be anything but strong-willed and educated. She enjoys adventure, loves Egypt as much as her archeologist husband, and defies all the conventions of her time. Her husband is an excellent match for her – handsome but hot headed, equally intelligent and educated, a believer in equality for all people, and a non-believer in all religious aspects. They’re an unusual pair, to be sure, but there’s a strong, invigorating romance going on between them that’s both passionate and believable.
And that’s probably what I enjoy the best. I am no reader of romances, mainly because I can’t buy into the idea of two people falling in love at first sight and immediately running off to get married and live happily ever after. That’s not to say I don’t believe in love at first sight, but after 15 years with my husband, I know love takes a hell of a lot of work to make it last. Most romances don’t show me any of that work in progress; they fail to display the foundations for a lasting relationship in my opinion. Yes, heroine and hero may desire each other, yes they must triumph over many obstacles to be together, but all their gooey-eyed protestations of love in the end don’t make for a lasting relationship. Peabody and Emerson share a sense of practicallity that reminds me so much of my own marriage, it’s almost frightening. For starters, Peabody doesn’t get all bent out of shape when her husband argues with her (he almost never believes her ‘fantasies’ of looming danger or crimes about to be committed). Instead, she knows he’ll eventually come around when enough evidence of a crisis presents itself. In the mean time, she humors him and continues to investigage on her own. As for Emerson, he may blow his top from time to time, even at her, but he knows how to apologize, and he knows better than to try and keep his wife under his thumb to prevent her from doing the things he thinks she shouldn’t be doing.
I guess what I”m trying to say is that there is no angst in this relationship. They don’t worry that one may not love the other. It’s simply an accepted fact between them. I by far prefer that type of romantic relationship to one where the heroine has to play ‘he loves me, he loves me not’ and that ends up being all she does in the book. I also appreciate the fact that Peabody doesn’t play games with her husband. She’s up front with him, blunt even, about what she wants, where she’s going, etc. She doesn’t need to make him jealous, and in fact is careful to avoid situations where she feels he might become jealous, as she knows he’ll kill any one who dares to assume an unwarrented familiarity with his wife. It’s not that he fears Peabody will leave him for another man. He just thinks other men should know their place.
So I’m enjoying the Mummy Case, and the entire series. And I really love the fact that I can get all these books in e-format. It’s just so convenient to be able to buy and immediate download the books and keep them on my netbook so I have the entire library at my fingertips. Although I have discovered one inconvenience with this set up.
I can’t read the netbook in the tub. Dang.