I once had a dreams of being an Egyptologist. I’m not ever going to be one, but I still very much want to visit the land of the pharaohs. With all that Egypt and its revolutions have been in the news lately, I started to realize just how much more there is to the country than I previously thought. So, when I got my copy of The Hidden by Jo Chumas, I was excited to discover a part of the story I hadn’t ever known much about.
The story is split between a diary written after World War I and events taking place in “real time” just before the start of World War II. I admit to knowing woefully little about those periods in the history of anywhere but Europe and the United States. Of course, Ms. Chumas’ story is fictional but I can promise that it seems so very real that it’s easy to imagine it happening. The research the author did is intense and, more than likely, I’m going to read research more about Egypt between the wars as soon as I’m done writing this review.
Aimee is the main character in the story. She’s a young girl, fresh both from a convent education in France and fresh into sudden widowhood after a brief and blissful marriage. She’s in the country of her birth but it’s very much a foreign country to her. All she wants to do is mourn her husband and find his killer. What she discovers is a longstanding world of political turmoil that engulfed her family generations before she was even born.
The enemies of the king think her husband shared secrets with her and they need those secrets badly if they have any hope of evading capture by the king’s advisers who, in turn, are just as convinced that Aimee possess secrets they need to capture the enemies of the king.
Aimee doesn’t know who to trust in a world where everyone has at least two code names.
The diary she receives from her husband in an odd, roundabout way ties everything together for her and helps her to know the mother she never knew. As it turns out, Aimee ends up as essential to the future of Egypt in the 1940s as her mother was to Egypt in the 1920s.
It’s a beautiful story of self-discovery in the face of grave danger.
This is one of the rare books where a reader wants nothing more than to stay up late to finish it at the same time that she wants to ration out the pages that are left to make the story last longer.
(I received a copy of Jo Chumas’ The Hidden through a Goodreads First Reads giveaway.)