From the very first page to the very last sentence, Egypt’s Sister by Angela Hunt is nothing short of a fast paced page turner. If you enjoy historical fiction novels that are loosely based on actual events and people with some phenomenal research put into the period, then you will enjoy this novel (and from what I have read by Angela Hunt, many of her novels have been excellent works of fiction with some strong research before she puts the pen to the paper).
Most of us have heard of the famous queen of Egypt, Cleopatra. Whether it be her love affair with Mark Antony or Caesar or her being the last of the Ptolemy ancestry to rule Egypt, she is not an unknown character. But have you ever stopped to consider what her life might have been like or how she came to be. This novel is not Cleopatra’s story, but the story of her through the eyes of (a fictional) someone who could have been her childhood friend. This is Chava’s story.
Chava is the daughter of Daniel the Scholar who is a Jew living in Alexandria, Egypt. She is not an Egyptian citizen because of her religious status as a Jew, but since her father is educated and a tutor for the young Cleopatra, her family is upheld as wealthy Alexandrian dwellers and given that her father educates the young princess, she is brought up with Cleopatra and her absolute best friend. The girls are inseparable growing up and even make the bond of being “blood sisters” and Chava even feels a calling from HaShem (God) that she is always suppose to be there to be able to bless Cleopatra. The story follows their humble beginnings as girls, when suddenly, Cleopatra’s father dies and she is left as Queen of Egypt.
Things begin to shift and change as Cleopatra begins to take possession of the country with her younger brother (which was Egyptian royalty custom of the time for her to marry him). Chava feels that her best friend will always be close to her, but her father warns her that events like this have a way of changing people. Convinced that God’s message to her means that she will always be there by Cleopatra’s side and her lady in waiting, she dismisses what her father says and keeps hoping that in the rush of all the events that Cleopatra will remember her and ask her to accompany her on her new queen travels. She finds that Cleopatra leaves and does not ask her to go with, but still holds out hope that life will resume for them as best friends and the closest confidant when she returns. A year comes and goes, Chava begins to stop actively waiting (although not without hope) and her heart begins to fall for a young man named Yosef. Given that she feels she is suppose to serve Cleopatra all her life, she neglects herself and her desires so she can be available when the queen returns.
Cleopatra does eventually come back to Alexandria and Chava waits to visit, but one day she goes to the palace to give Cleopatra a gift of all the names of HaShem carved into a wooden plaque. Cleopatra doesn’t really have an allegiance to HaShem, but to the Egyptian gods of Isis among others; nonetheless, she is touched by Chava’s gesture and wants to do something to thank her for her kindness and for always being a friend. A few days later she calls for Chava and offers to give her one of the best gifts she could get, citizenship granted for her and her family… the only requirement is that she would have to give up the One True God to worship the gods of Egypt so she can conform to be like a citizen. Torn between the kind offer from her best friend, but knowing that she cannot worship anyone other than HaShem, she turns down the offer and finds her life catapulted into a life she never dreamed of. Chava faces many emotions, from hurt and bitterness and rejection, to acceptance and realizing that God’s promises for our lives don’t always look like what we want them to.
While there is no allusion to strong questionable details, this is a book I would recommend for anyone to read who are of teen to adult age. Younger children may not quite understand some of the context even though it is found quite frequently in society. Beautifully and masterfully written, this is a great book from start to finish and you will not want to miss it.
For a preview of the novel or to purchase, please click here.
I received this book free courtesy of Bethany House Publisher’s Blogger Review Program in exchange for an honest review.