So here we are in Egypt. All I really want is a little heat and a deck chair on a boat sailing down the Nile. A boat like in Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile. Specifically the 1978 film version with Bette Davis and Maggie Smith so I can snoop on their conversations along with Hercule Poirot. Watching Maggie Smith is one of the great pleasures in life, in Harry Potter, in Downtown Abbey, A Room with a View, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Gosford Park... Why the entertainment never ends! She is joined by Peter Ustinov as Agatha Christie’s detective Hercule Poirot, and Mia Farrow, David Niven and Angela Lansbury also. I love Maggie’s mannish costumes, the plot machinations, the nostalgia of rewatching something from long ago, and the sightseeing at Abu Simbel, Karnak and the Pyramids.
And next to rewatch Cairo Time with another actress I never tire of: Patricia Clarkson. She of The Station Agent, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Pieces of April, and Lars and the Real Girl. This is a different kind of movie about Egypt entirely, a slow character driven art piece about a woman contemplating an affair with an Egyptian friend of her husband. It treats Egypt as a place where people live, instead of merely as a backdrop. As in Lulu in Marrakech, it considers the relationship between the expats and the natives.
As for books about Egypt, two come to mind. Our son loved the kids’ book Adventures in Ancient Egypt by Linda Bailey. This entertaining comic book series drawn by Bill Slavin has three kids jumping around in time thanks to the Good Times Travel Agency. After visiting Egypt, you may want to keep travelling to the Middle Ages, Ice Age, China, Ancient Greece and to meet the Vikings. There are reams of other interesting books for kids under Dewey Decimal number 932!
For adults who enjoy literary fiction, Anatomy of a Disappearance opens in Alexandria, Egypt. Author Hisham Matar gives us Nuri, a young boy mourning the death of his mother. He falls in love with a beautiful woman named Mona, whom his political dissident father weds. It is an uneasy trio of characters full of hidden motivations. When his father is kidnapped and disappears, Nuri struggles to understand. He slowly unravels the truth, and learns to live with the huge absence of his father.
Next stop on our Around the World in 80 Days Virtual Tour: Iran.