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Walking Across Egypt

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  3,754 ratings  ·  401 reviews
She has as much business keeping a stray dog as she would walking across Egypt–which not so incidentally is the title of her favorite hymn. She’s Mattie Rigsbee, an independent, strong-minded senior citizen who, at seventy-eight, might be slowing down just a bit. When teenage delinquent Wesley Benfield drops in on her life, he is even less likely a companion than the stray ...more
Paperback, 215 pages
Published June 23rd 1997 by Ballantine Books (first published January 3rd 1987)
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To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeeGone with the Wind by Margaret MitchellThe Help by Kathryn StockettThe Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark TwainFried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg
Best Southern Literature
120th out of 813 books — 1,930 voters
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeeGone with the Wind by Margaret MitchellFried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie FlaggThe Help by Kathryn StockettThe Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
Great Books of Southern Fiction
34th out of 175 books — 343 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Sue
Apr 19, 2014 Sue rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sue by: Mike Sullivan
This is my second Clyde Edgerton book and another fun experience full of quirky Southern characters, but not too much so, and situations that have you alternately chuckling and shaking your head. If I were to provide much of the plot it could interfere with others' future enjoyment of the story so I'll reduce the story to basics. There is the older Southern woman, a church-going woman who would love some grandchildren, there is a dog catcher, there are nosy neighbors, there are here unmarried so ...more
Vannessagrace Vannessagrace
Walking Across Egypt restores your faith in mankind. A sixteen-year old boy lives at a juvenile detention home and through his uncle, the local dogcatcher, he meets a senior citizen he comes to call Grandma. He escapes the detention home and comes to live with Grandma and they develop a grandma and grandson relationship. Her son and daughter objects to the friendship but grandma ignores them and she and the boy builds upon their friendship from her teaching him about things most children take fo ...more
Diane Barnes
Reading this book was like opening my grandmother's screen door and stepping into a family gathering. Especially since I listened to the audio book on a very long car ride. It was not read by Clyde Edgerton, to my disappointment, but the reader did a great job with the North Carolina pronunciations and inflections of speech. All the familiar characters were here, the nosy neighbors, the hypocritical church-ladies, well meaning handy men, just good country people in a small town. But most importa ...more
Larry Bassett
All My Children, a television soap opera that aired on ABC for 41 years, from January 5, 1970 to September 23, 2011, makes it into Walking Across Egypt as a minor character. I have never watched All My Children or any other soap opera but I do know what makes a soap opera and have read a few books that I think would qualify. But forty-one years? Am I that old? I guess so.

But I did watch The Andy Griffith Show so I know that seventy-eight year old Mattie Rigsbee must be related to Aunt Bee. They
...more
Angela Spencer
I really liked this book, but I didn't love it. The main character is Mattie, a woman who thinks she's "slowing down", and despite her prejudices and some totally irrational habits, she sincerely believes that she can affect her community for the better, one meal at a time. She's very human, and her naivite as well as her hypocrisy is enlightening.

Reading this reminded me of a lot of people I know, a lot of faults which I have, and the humor and good grace that gets me through it all.
Kate
This book contains my favorite description ever. I won't give it away, but the scene has to do with dirty dishes, a soap opera, and chair seats being recovered.
Judy
I heard Clyde Edgeron speak at a writer's conference in 1999...he read the opening scene of Walking Across Egypt, told some stories, shared writing tips...one of the funniest guys I've ever heard. Perfect delivery, imagery, dialogue. Lets you see, smell, taste the biscuits, hear the conversations as if you're standing near enough to the stove to burn yourself if you're not careful. LOVE his writing style, the lazy meanderings of southern conversations, back and forth and around each other. Walki ...more
Elizabeth
"Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." Matthew 25:40 is Mattie Rigsby's favorite Bible passage and she takes it to heart.

She befriends the Juvenile delinquent nephew of her new friend, the dog catcher. She and young Wesley form a bond and she realizes that Wesley needs a Grandma... Wesley needs her.

Mattie loves to make big meals and serves them to her family, friends, neighbors and just about any passerby. Wesley
...more
Joyce Mccarten
This may be my favorite book of all times! I am in love with the main character Maddie. Some of you will recognize her as one of your elderly aunts, or even a grandmother. This book was written in 1987, before we routinely used cell phones, computers and digital cameras. Still, it doesn't seem dated because of the character of this woman. This book has been lauded over the years, and the author, Clyde Edgerton, wrote 8 more books after this one.
Maybe he is still writing and I hope he is. I hope
...more
Miss Starling
Sweet Jesus, I'm gonna get all southern over this book! Its true. This book does it to me. The realtionship between an older woman taking in a juvenile deliquent is so funny, and heartwarming. She's really torn between her Christian duty and her enjoyment of solitude. I like how Edgerton reveals her feelings about her children and not having grandchildren. i really didn't like her kids and their prejudices against her charge. I detest rude people. It's refreshing to have a novel feature Chritian ...more
Michelle
Nov 25, 2009 Michelle rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Those needing a little lift
Recommended to Michelle by: KerriSue Jensen
Shelves: favorites
I liked the main character, Mattie. She's what I want to be in my old age. Except grandchild-less...that I do NOT want to be. I love her spunky attitude and her inner conflict. I enjoyed that she was a flawed product of her generation. I was most uncomfortable with the use of the "n" word, and I suppose that's because I'm a product of my generation's values. I have to admit that I got a little tiny bit panicked, seeing the (small) number of pages left and not knowing if the author was going to g ...more
Keri
This is a story of an older woman, getting on in years but still able to live independantly. One day she has an unfortunate incident with one of her favorite chairs which leaves her stuck in a rather awkward position. While waiting for a repair man to come to her rescue, she recalls a sermon given recently at her church. It was concerning "the least of these" type of people. This is a heart warming tale about standing up for what you belive and caring for others. I really enjoyed it.
Fiona
I've been really disappointed in the last few books I read, so it was a joy to finally find one that hits the spot. I picked it up because of it's title and laughed my way all the way through to the end. One review on the back cover calls it "rollicking" which is a word you don't see so often anymore, but sums it up nicely.

Don't expect a book about Egypt. Its set in a small southern town, and is based around the life of an elderly widow.

This is a book I will read again, often!
Meran
Reading this book made me hungry for all the good food this old lady cooks for everyone who comes to her home-- and the quality of the cakes, pies, and biscuits keep them all coming back too!

It made me nostalgic for those long gone days when even mean natured folks would sweeten up when sitting down to impromptu feasts with others; even folks who normally disagree would stop arguing long enough to eat their fill and afterwards, be able to have amenable discussions instead of rabid screamfests.

Th
...more
Kathy
Some of life's greatest joys come from living a purposeful life of service. This was wonderfully illustrated throughout the book and part of what made Walking Across Egypt a fun book to read, very visually written. Hilarious moments. There was a little language. I wish I'd known when I started reading it there is a sequel, so the ending was a little surprising. But regardless I really enjoyed the book. There is a movie based on the book and it pretty much follows the story. The full length movie ...more
Sharon
I've read this book twice. The first time in the early 90s and several years later. I enjoyed this book so much. I still have my copy...I've tried to pass it along for another to read several times but always pull it out of the books I'm giving away. I still remember parts of this book. Maybe, it's time to pull it out and read it again.
Casey
Oct 28, 2008 Casey rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Aunt Barb
A fun vacation read, similar to the clever style of Alexander McCall Smith. The main character is a 70 something women, and the story is related as seen through her eyes. With a mix of the naiivity of a Sunday school little girl, and wisdom that comes with having lived over 70 years.
Felix
Wonderful story about an old Southern lady and a wayward young man, who form an unlikely bond. Mattie Rigsby feeds young orphan delinquent Wesley Benfield's soul and stomach. The way to Wesley's soul is through his stomach, and Miss Mattie can flat cook.
Carolyn Tassie
"In so much as you have done it unto the least of these, my brethren, you have done it unto me." Mattie Rigsby teaches a good lesson. Loved it more than the first time I read it. Senior book club loved it too!
Bob Mayer
Clyde Edgergton write books with a charm. Always entertaining. Southern but you don't need to be from the South to enjoy.

I recommend this book as a positive experience on a gray day.
Joanne
Read it. You might not adopt a teenager, but you will cook something good.
William
This was my introduction to Clyde Edgerton and the hook was set.
Holly
A very short read about a 78 year old widow who tries to change the world one meal at a time. Mattie thinks she is slowing down, actually she made me feel like a lazy lump with all her cleaning and cooking. She has a bit of a fall and gets stuck in a chair with no bottom. She is mortified that the neighbors might find her and she hadn't done the lunch dishes yet. The dog-catcher comes to pick up a stray and she won't let him rescue her until he washes, dries and puts up her dishes. Mattie learns ...more
Bookreaderljh
Nice light and easy story to read. Very funny in parts and a lovely character study of an older woman trying to solve the world's problems through her religious faith and the power of good meals. The community and family dynamics were very relatable. Here is a woman who is getting on in age but still trying to do for herself and be useful to others. She becomes involved with a young man - in trouble and with no family - as she grapples with the fact that her family may be dying out as she has no ...more
Jayne Charles
This book, which is not set in Egypt, and where nobody walks much further than the local church, was an oddity. Two parts farce to three parts religious indoctrination, it centres on an elderly widow living in the North Carolina.

The depiction of the elderly characters is thought provoking. Their focus is on washing up, cooking, nurturing, offering hospitality and going to church. They aren’t distracted by the complications and concerns of the modern world, they just keep plodding forward the bes
...more
Ashley Lauren
I'm sorry, I just couldn't. This book is royally boring. I read it as part of a challenge for a group and ended up skimming the majority. Why? The majority of the book is about an old lady's stream of consciousness. It's not interesting. At all. It's about things she finds funny (that aren't funny) about the food she cooks (not even interesting, oh, pound cake, yippee) and about being old and slowing down. Yawn. And she thinks the same things over and over again. Okay, so the story itself isn't ...more
Nancy Oakes


Walking Across Egypt was this month's selection for our little neighborhood book group. We've tackled Mister Pip, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, The Story of Lucy Gault among others. So it was time for a break -- hence this book. And what a book it is.

Mattie is the main character here, and she lives in rural North Carolina by herself, although her two children come every so often to visit. At 78, she does fine for herself, although in her words, she's "sl
...more
Margaret
I read this book over my Christmas vacation and my dad recommended it to me as a funny, entertaining read. And it was that! I laughed out loud several times. It is about a 78 year old woman who thinks she is slowing down and is trying to take it easy but gets her self into a big town scandal. It was quite comical and there are some very interesting characters in the book including her sister, Pearl, who uses snuff. But the most interesting is the main character, a 78 year old woman, Mattie, who ...more
Jessica
Dec 16, 2009 Jessica rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jessica by: Suey
Shelves: book-club
This was a last-minute replacement for another book club selection that became unavailable. It was good pick for December because it's a quick and easy read.

From the back of my Ballantine Reader's Circle edition:

She has as much business keeping a stray dog as she would walking across Egypt - which not so incidentally is the title of her favorite hymn. She's Mattie Rigsbee, an independent, strong-minded senior citizen who, at seventy-eight, might be slowing down just a bit. When teenage delinque
...more
Brian Bixler
Clyde Edgerton's "Walking Across Egypt" will leave you feeling hungry -- for the freshly picked butter beans, homegrown tomatoes, lightly browned biscuits, Southern fried chicken, hot apple pie, thick, moist pound cake and any other comfort food that Mattie Rigsbee can concoct in her tidy kitchen and serve to just about anyone she can get to set a spell.

But when you turn the last page, you'll also be left feeling hungry for more of Edgerton's homespun story about a woman who allows her faith to
...more
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Clyde Edgerton is widely considered one of the premier novelists working in the Southern tradition today, often compared with such masters as Eudora Welty and Flannery O'Connor.

Although most of his books deal with adult concerns--marriage, aging, birth and death--Edgerton's work is most profoundly about family. In books such as Raney, Walking Across Egypt, The Floatplane Notebooks, and Killer Dill
...more
More about Clyde Edgerton...
Raney The Bible Salesman The Floatplane Notebooks Lunch at the Piccadilly Killer Diller

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“She walked into the kitchen, turned on the light and saw through the window that the eastern sky as dark red. It was her favorite time of the day. She stepped out onto the back step. It was cool. She also liked it when it was cold and she could stand there taking in the cold morning while the sky was red, and time stopped stood still, and rested for a minute. People thought that time never stood still, except in Joshua when the sun stood still; but she knew that for a minute before sunrise when the sky began to lighten, showing dark early clouds, there was often a pause when nothing moved, not even time, and she was always happy to be up and in that moment; sometimes she tried to stand perfectly still, to not move with time not moving, and it seemed that if she were not careful she might slip out of this world and into another. That made the moment risky, bright shining, and very still at the same time. She hoped that when her time came, it would be close to morning, and she could wait for the still moment.” 10 likes
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