Historical Fiction Review - House of Dreams or Lady of the Reeds by Pauline Gedge
Author: Pauline Gedge
  Release Date: 1994
Genre: Historical Fiction
Series: Lady of the Reeds, #1
Followed by: House of Illusions

In the tiny hamlet of Aswat, far to the south of the royal capital, a beautiful young girl want more than the meager prospects her village offer.
Determined and resourceful, she is quick to leap upon an opportunity when the great seer Hui, who is also phyician to Pharaoh, visits Aswat to commune with its god, Wepwawet.
Taken under Hui’s wing to become a healer, she has no idea of his real plans for her – plans that will bring her close to Oharaoh as his favourite concubine, but will ultimately enmesh her in court intrigue of the most dangerous kind.

House of Dreams is a powerful story of passion and jealousy, rich with the details of Ancient Egyptian life.

Nothing can be more dangerous to a woman, whatever her time in history and her place in society, than her own beauty, intelligence, and ambition.

Thu, a peasant girl from rural Aswat who dreams of escaping her humble life, posses all of those characteristics that eventually will prove to be her downfall in a world where the favours of Pharaoh can ne rescined as quickly as they are bestowed.

This is Thu’s story.
A story of ambition.
A story of intrigue.
A story of rise and fall from grace.

Based on a known and historically attested harem plot to poison Ramses III, House of Dreams aka Lady of the Reeds is a perfect blend between historical fact and fiction, with deep and subtle, well-developed characters, detailed and compelling descriptions, and suprising plot-twists.

Gedge accurately paints Ancient Egypt and all its classes, from the hard reality of pesants on whose back society rests, to the idealized palace world where the rich and powerful rule, plot, and corrupt, giving life to a compellingly believable and flawed character in Thu.

An unforgettable, breathtaking, intriguing, impeccable, well-written and emotionally resonant novel.

Pauline Gedge is a definite must read for all things Ancient Egypt Fiction.


If you are interested, you can read more about the Harem Conspiracy on the Judicial Papyrus of Turin, as the main source of evidence, or here on DIANABUJA’S BLOG: Africa, The Middle East, Agriculture, History and Culture.


643719Harem Years: The Memoirs of an Egyptian Feminist (1879-1924) by Huda Shaarawi
In this rare first-hand account of the private world of a harem in colonial Cairo, Shaarawi recalls her childhood and early adult life in the seclusion of an upper-class Egyptian household, including her marriage at age thirteen. Her subsequent separation from her husband gave her time for an extended formal education, as well as an unexpected taste of independence. Shaarawi’s feminist activism grew along with her involvement in Egypt’s nationalist struggle and culminated in 1923 when she publicly removed her veil in a Cairo railroad station, a daring act of defiance.

Harem by Dora Levy Mossanen367270
A seductive and intriguing journey from the humble Persian Jewish quarter to the fascinating world of shahs, soothsayers, eunuchs, and sultanas, Harem follows three generations of strong-willed and cunning women: Rebekah — a poor girl married to the abusive blacksmith, Jacob the fatherless — who emerges from her disastrous match with a mysterious brand between her breasts; Gold Dust, Rebekah’s treasured daughter, who enters the opulent and perilous world of the harem and captivates the shah with her singing bones; and Gold Dust’s daughter, the revered and feared albino princess Raven, who will one day rule the empire.
Rich in visual imagery, Harem vividly depicts the exotic bazaars and dangerous alleys of the city and palace chambers brimming with conspiracy and betrayal — as well as love and redemption. A skillfully crafted, intricately textured novel, Harem represents the beginning of a remarkable literary career.