The Visitors

By Sally Beauman
(Harper, Hardcover, 9780062302687, 529pp.)

Publication Date: July 2014

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Description

From the New York Times bestselling author Sally Beauman comes an intensely atmospheric, spellbinding re-creation of Lord Carnarvon's hunt for Tutankhamun's tomb in Egypt's Valley of the Kings.

Sent abroad to Egypt in 1922 to recover from the typhoid that has killed her mother, eleven-year-old Lucy becomes swept up in the feverish excitement surrounding the search for Tutankhamun's tomb. Through her friendship with Frances, the daughter of an American archaeologist, Lucy witnesses first-hand the intrigue, politics, and passions surrounding this quest. Raised in a world in which adults are often cold and unpredictable, Lucy forms an immediate bond with Frances. Their friendship sustains them throughout childhood, guides them through the class-ridden colonial society in which they grow up, and takes them into an adult life that promises fulfilment--until it veers toward heartbreak.

Deftly constructed and transportive, peopled by powerful characters, moving from the 1920s to the present day, The Visitors is a timeless coming-of-age narrative set against the backdrop of profound historical change. But how is such change documented? Whose testimony is reliable? Which witness should we believe?

Looking back on her past much later in life, viewing it from the perspective of age, Lucy tells a deeply moving story of love and loss, of mistakes made and incendiary secrets concealed. She reveals the circumstances that lie behind the most celebrated discovery ever made in the Valley of the Kings, a discovery clouded by deception, in which triumph swiftly turned to tragedy; it is a story, as she comes to see, whose truths are both elusive and occluded, one that mirrors her own. As Lord Carnarvon and the archaeologist Howard Carter force the desert to yield its treasures, Lucy reveals the extremes to which people are driven by desire--even when these extremes involve building a life around a lie.

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