Thursday, 4 August 2011

Whispers in the Sand by Barbara Erskine

If there's one thing I hate in a book it's when a man and woman meet at the beginning of the story and hate each other on sight. Because it is immediately obvious that they're going to get together by the end. It is the main reason I don't read romances. Anyway, that exact thing happens at the beginning of this book. Anna meets Toby on a plane and, for no good reason that I can see, they hate each other. I nearly gave up on the book at this point, but I'd abandoned the book I'd started before this one and I don't like giving up on books, so I persevered.
I'm glad I did because I can forgive a lot for a good story and I think that this is a good story. Anna is recovering from a brutal divorce and has gone on holiday to Egypt. She chose Egypt because her great-great-grandmother Louise had travelled there in the 19th century, and had kept a diary. Anna thinks it will provide an interesting focus for her trip if she retraces Louisa's footsteps. So she heads off, armed with the diary, and also a little glass bottle which had belonged to Louisa. Anna sees the bottle as sort of a lucky charm.
However it turns out that the bottle has a longer history than Anna suspects. It isn't a Victorian trinket but in fact goes all the way back to Ancient Egypt. It contains a secret and valuable potion which has been fought over for centuries by two high priests. With the return of the bottle to Egypt the spirits of the priests are re-awakened and everyone who comes into contact with it are put in danger.
It is a bit silly, but it kept me reading. Anna's story is alternated with Louisa's story so we can see the parallels in their lives. I found that the tone of both stories was the same, making it difficult to differentiate between the two. I think that it would've been more effective if Louisa's story had be put into diary form, and first person rather than third.
I thought this was an enjoyable, light read. A bit silly, but good for the beach.


  1. I loved Barbara Erskine's early books, but she does seem to write virtually the same plot in a different setting nearly every time. But I do agree, great beach reads.

  2. Jane - this is the first book by Barbara Erskine that I've read, though I have got Time's Legacy on the shelf. I don't think I'll rush to read it, but I haven't been put off reading more.