Egyptology and a crumbling mansion are the backdrop for Lesley Glaister’s captivating tale. Little Egypt is the story of how twins, now aged in their nineties, spent a lifetime together trapped in their childhood home by circumstance and a terrible secret.
Isis and her twin brother Osiris were left to fend for themselves in childhood when their parents — fanatical about egyptology — set off in the 1920s in search of the tomb of Herihor.
Should they succeed, fame and fortune would surely follow.
Egyptology was fashionable in the early years of the twentieth century and made international headlines when Lord Carnarvon’s discovered the tomb of the Pharoh, Tutanhkamun. But every successful expedition, there were many others that in disappointment.
The Spurlings depart for Egypt leaving the twins in the care of a housekeeper, Mary, who is rarely paid and struggles to keep the household ticking over. Left largely to their own devices, Isis and Osi grow up in isolation, relying on their own resources for their education and entertainment. Osi, develops a dangerous obsession with Egyptology that sees his behaviour become increasingly bizarre and dangerous while Isis assumes responsibility for his care.
It is only when Isis develops a friendship with a young American anarchist, Spike, that she begins to see a possible escape for herself and even though she’s by then in her 90s, it’s not too late for her to imagine a new future.
Isis is an engaging and likeable character in a very readable and entertaining novel — worth a look for anyone with an interest in egyptology.
Little Egypt by Lesley Glaister is published by Salt Publishing. ISBN 9781907773723