As a favor to her friend Tom, Hattie Williams agrees to illustrate his
new book on Hatshepsut, Pharaoh of Egypt. However, once she’s begun,
Hattie finds it difficult to capture the ancient queen’s likeness on
paper. Frustrated, Hattie takes her work to the Chicago Museum, hoping
to find inspiration there.
What Hattie finds
there is a beautiful golden necklace rumored to belong to Hatshepsut
herself. Entranced, Hattie reaches out to touch the relic. The instant
she does so, Hattie is whisked away to the Egypt of 3000 years ago, a
land troubled by intrigue and murder.
Lost and frightened,
Hattie finds herself drawn into a web of lies and deceit. Her only
friend is Senemut, the palace tutor. He alone believes Hattie’s tale of
time travel. With his help, Hattie hatches a scheme to put Hatshepsut on
the throne of Egypt. Only then will she be able to return home.
The use of time
travel is certainly not a new plot device. In fact, the sub-genre has
enjoyed resurgence in popularity in recent years. Given this, Ms. Delisi
has a daunting task: provide a new twist on a familiar trope.
Thankfully, Ms. Delisi has managed to avoid many of the pitfalls of a
time travel novel. Too often, time travel is used as an excuse to throw
an ‘enlightened’ individual into a ‘barbaric’ society. Not so with
Lady of the Two Lands. Hattie must adapt to her new surroundings,
rather that forcing those around her to change. Ms. Delisi puts extra
effort in creating a realistic world for her characters to play in. It’s
obvious that she has researched the time period, yet her prose never
characters jump off the page. The Egyptians are as sympathetic as Hattie
herself is. The tutor Senemut is an intelligent man who wants the best
for his country. He believes Hatshepsut is the best choice to rule, and
is truly upset when he discovers that he has placed an imposter on the
throne. Nevertheless, his affection for Hattie is clear, and, in the
end, he is unwilling to sacrifice her to her enemies.
If Lady of the
Two Lands has faults, they lie in the last few chapters of the
novel. Hattie is reduced to the typical ‘pining female’ stereotype.
Given her earlier resourcefulness, it is strange that Ms. Delisi chose
to take Hattie down this road.
Despite the somewhat
troubling ending, Lady of the Two Lands is an engaging tale.
Elizabeth Delisi takes what could have been a tired, overused plot and
gives it some spark. Perhaps there’s room for one more time travel
novel, after all.
Reviewed by Erika
Sevea for The Road to Romance
November 20, 2005