Flowers by Moonlight

Kissed by Starlight

As Lydia Browne:

Snowflake Wishes

 
Splendid You by Lynn Bailey
(Jove, $5.99, PG) ISBN 0-515-12868-6
****
For those who are Amelia Peabody fans, here is a heroine in a similar vein but with a sense of humor. Julia Hanson is a twenty seven-year-old spinster who goes to London to meet her long-time Egyptologist correspondent. She is determined to marry him. After all, Julia finds him compatible by mail and she longs to go to Egypt. She has decided that marriage to Simon Archer would provide her with the life she has always wanted.

Julia may be Simon Archerís intellectual equal but his amazement at discovering she is not an ancient old maid - -and that she is very determined - - does not bode well for her plan. Juliaís battle to convince Simon that she is not a silly female is a joy to read. Julia sails into Simonís life and takes charge of both him and his family. His widowed mother is inclined to be annoyed until she realizes that Julia is also the only child of a wealthy mill owner. Then Simonís mother cheers her on.

Meanwhile, while visiting Simonís latest archeological exhibit, a series of strange events occurs and Julia realizes that the spirit of An-ket, an ancient Egyptian princess and priestess, has been let loose. This spirit refuses to settle in one person or thing, however, so that Julia finds An-ket in the museum charwoman, a stray cat, Simonís sister . . . When she first explains the phenomenon to Simon he, naturally, does not believe her. In fact, her campaign to convince him of her good sense suffers a severe setback.

But as the story continues, Julia and the spirit both manage to shake up, transform and improve the various characters they meet - - the charwoman becomes a busy entrepreneur, the cat gets a comfortable place to live, Simonís sister cheers up and reunites with her long-lost lover. In the mean time, the very mysterious Dr. Mystery follows Julia through London seeking the answers to mysteries he should not pry into.

How Julia triumphs is great fun. I could even handle the reincarnation theme and the amazing appearance of Egyptian gods. The character An-ket is fairly unique. I truly enjoyed An-ketís many appearances and transformations as she made her way through London. Her supernatural powers are often combined with her natural curiosity about this mysterious London.

Overall, the story is a treat. While it is very close to Elizabeth Petersí Peabody books, I must admit that in many ways I like Julia more -- she is infinitely more aware of the appearance she makes as a learned, rather plain old maid than Amelia is. She is also more perceptive and funny about other people and herself. But Juliaís love affair with the strong-willed Simon is very much like Ameliaís relationship with her true love. Simon himself could be a duplicate of Ameliaís husband. In fact, as devoted as Simon becomes to Julia, I had the funny feeling he wasnít quite Juliaís equal. But then, who could be?

--Irene Williams


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