Gild the Weeping Lily by Manjula Variyam

The Synopsis:

She has been known by many names: Tatkhipa, Tadukhipa, Tadu-Hepa, Kiya. She was a princess of the kingdom of Mitanni, who lived and died more than three thousand years ago. She was the royal consort of Akhenaten, the ‘heretic pharaoh’ of Egypt, who ruled alongside Nefertiti. Her life is shrouded in mystery. It is irrefutable that she existed; yet, although she was the consort of a pharaoh, and was honored very highly, she disappeared from Egypt sometime during the last year of Akhenaten’s reign.

Her name and images were erased from monuments and replaced by those of Nefertiti’s daughters. Her life and her disappearance have remained elusively mysterious. During her lifetime, relations between Egypt and Mitanni deteriorated. After her disappearance, both kingdoms were embroiled in turmoil at the highest levels. Could she have been the cause? Could a woman have changed the course of history of one of the world’s greatest ancient civilizations?

I received this book from the author for the purpose of this review. All comments and opinions are entirely my own.


Gild the Weeping Lily

As a lover of Egyptian culture, I was very intrigued by this fictional story that parallels true historical figures. And though the story plot indeed met all of my expectations, I wasn’t impressed with how it was told.

In the opening pages, it is evident that the author has a passion for this subject and conducted very thorough research to keep the historic aspects of her story as close to fact as possible, and because of this I was able to follow some of the stories that are familiar to me. However, the story of Tatkhipa, the fictional character, was very hard for me to follow because it is told primarily through dialogue and stories of her past.

The scenes were very long for my taste and much of the dialogue that I read seemed almost unnecessary to the story and didn’t help my understanding of what was happening. There were also many instances in which I had thought that the main character was referring to a certain character but it would actually be a totally different, unnamed character, and then she would switch back to the original character reference without warning. So I was often confused as to whom she was talking about.

Because this is Egyptian historical fiction, there is, as expected, passionate lovers and the romance between forbidden lovers. There were few mentions of sexual attraction and some sexual references to marriage, however nothing I would consider graphic. The language is clean as well, though there are times in which God’s name is taken in vain and I did find it odd that all of the Egyptian gods were referred to as “Gods”.

So even though I was pleased to once again visit the home of the Nile, I wasn’t terribly impressed with Gild the Weeping Lily. I give it 2 out of 5 stars.

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