Atheneum Books, Hardcover, 9781416990079, 309pp.
Publication Date: May 24, 2011
Maybe you think this girl is wearing a pith helmet with antique dust swirling around her.
Maybe you think she is a young Egyptologist who has arrived in Cairo on camelback.
Maybe she would like to think that too. Agnes Wilkins dreams of adventures that reach beyond the garden walls, but reality for a seventeen-year-old debutante in 1815 London does not allow for camels--or dust, even. No, Agnes can only see a mummy when she is wearing a new silk gown and standing on the verdant lawns of Lord Showalter's estate, with chaperones fussing about and strolling sitar players straining to create an exotic "atmosphere" for the first party of the season. An unwrapping.
This is the start of it all, Agnes's debut season, the pretty girl parade that offers only ever-shrinking options: home, husband, and high society. It's also the start of something else, because the mummy Agnes unwraps isn't just a mummy. It's a host for a secret that could unravel a new destiny--unleashing mystery, an international intrigue, and possibly a curse in the bargain.
Get wrapped up in the adventure . . . but keep your wits about you, dear Agnes.
"Austen fans who wish her characters would get up off their settees and risk an adventure will enjoy Bradbury's smart, feisty heroine." Kirkus Reviews
4Q 3P M J S
Bradbury, Jennifer. Wrapped. Atheneum/Simon & Schuster, 2011. 320p. $16.99. 978-1-4169-9007-9.
This is a fast-paced historical novel that engages the reader on many levels by contrasting roles of class, history, and women with modern society. In England during the Regency period, Agnes Wilkins is about to make her debut into society. But Agnes is no ordinary debutante, as she can quote Jane Austen (“A Lady”) in ten languages and help end the Napoleonic wars. Agnes is realizing the restraints of her class as she tracks down the mystery of an Egyptian standard. Though she is wooed by a gentleman of her class who invites her to an “Unwrapping,” she has feelings for Caedmon, the lackey Egyptologist. At this social event that features a mummy from Egypt, she uncovers an iron artifact with a scrap of linen that predates the mummification. The reader gets a subtle lesson in historical relativism as Agnes goes behind the scenes of the British Museum and connects this jackal head to the Rosetta Stone. The gender issues are dealt with effectively as she uses poignant Austen quotes in response to her mother’s constricting attentions to her dress and demeanor.
Though slightly different in exact years, this novel would pair well with the classic Count of Monte Cristo as “Old Boney,” Napoleon, indirectly influences both protagonists’ actions. The differences between the two novels would make an interesting comparison on political and social levels.—Ann Reddy Damon.
VOYA June 2011
"Bradbury offers a grand historical mystery with a pinch of supernatural intrigue and a hint of romance."
- SLJ June 2011
"A bold and daring historical adventure tale with a brave, quick-thinking heroine at its center."
--BOOKLIST, May 1, 2011