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The Sacred River

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  227 ratings  ·  56 reviews
A romantic, vivid novel about three women who leave Victorian London for Egypt—a tale of female empowerment, self-discovery, love, and the absolution that comes from facing the secrets of our pasts.

Harriet Heron’s life is almost over before it has even begun. At just twenty-three years of age, she is an invalid, overprotected and reclusive. Before it is too late, she must
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published July 4th 2013 by Simon &Schuster Ltd.
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3.57  · 
Rating details
 ·  227 ratings  ·  56 reviews

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Diane S ☔
May 02, 2014 rated it liked it
3.5 Having recently recovered by an acute exacerbation of my asthma, I found myself thinking how lucky we are now with the all the treatments available. How many must of died in the past when so little could be done. I starts reading this and found one of the main characters, Harriet a Yung woman in her early twenties had been an invalid most of her life due to her serious asthma condition. This takes place in London in 1882, and her treatment seems to consist of various tincture and tonics, tho ...more
MaryannC. Book Freak
Mixed thoughts about this one. This was a sometimes gentle, descriptive read about 3 women travelling to Egypt for the health of Harriet, the youngest of the three. While there, each woman begins a self realization of themselves that in the end will shape the future of their lives. While I enjoyed the genteel descriptions of travel abroad, the story also has it's moments of stark reality and brutality along the way. Despite my enjoyment of this book,I couldn't help but feel a little let down at ...more
Jun 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
The Sacred River was a lovely historical novel, beautifully written, and totally evocative of colonial Egypt. It was a somber novel, filled with the themes of death; however, it ends with rebirth, bringing a sense of hope to the final chapters.

The novel focuses on a short period for three very different, but related women. First, we have Harriet Heron, a young woman, who has been bedridden for most of her life due to asthma. When her doctor hints that there’s very little that he can do for her,
Oct 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: borrowed
Three women travelled from Victorian London to Egypt, and all of their lives were changed as a result of the journey, the country, and their experiences.

Harriet Heron was twenty-three years old, and she was an invalid, afflicted by asthma in its severest form. Her great love was Egypt, discovered and explored through books, and she longed to go there, but she knew her anxious, protective parents would not countenance the idea. She knew that they loved her, but she was beginning to find their lov
Tara Chevrestt
Mar 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
This story wasn't what I was expecting. I liked it well enough though. We have three women with very different types of strength that we see at very different points of the story. Their ages and situation vary greatly, as do their desires.

Sickly Harriet just wants to live again and feels she can do that in Egypt, a place she's always been somewhat obsessed with. If she can't live, she just wants to die. She picks up a beau (so she thinks), learns about love--what it feels like, and also finally
N.L.B. Horton
Feb 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
I first read fiction about Egypt via the late Barbara Mertz, aka Elizabeth Peters. She is a hard act to follow. I’m not a romance reader, so was wary about a book that markets itself as a “vivid, romantic novel” about three women debarking for far off lands. But I’m glad I read it.

WHAT I LIKED: Wallace captures the locations from London to Luxor beautifully. Her characters are interesting and engaging, and I cared about what happened to them. The romance was minimal and respectfully handled—not
Mar 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
Another great read from Wendy Wallace. An author to watch out for in future.
May 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014, 2014-best
I requested an electronic ARC of Wendy Wallace’s The Sacred River because the story seemed so suited to my interests. The book opens in London, but is set primarily in British-controlled Egypt during the early 20th Century—a time of political unrest and archaeological discovery. What I hadn’t realized was that Wendy Wallace is also the author of one of my favorite books from 2012, The Painted Bridge, and I found The Sacred River every bit as enjoyable as that earlier work.

What Wallace writes is
Apr 15, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.
This receives 4.5 stars as a rating from me.
This is a unique historical novel about three women from Victorian London who take the trip of a lifetime to Egypt. Although the stories of the women (a mother, daughter and aunt) are intertwined at the onset, the author does a lovely job of gradually unfolding the story of each individual. Each woman embarks on her own journey of self- discovery and rebirth. As they explore Egypt the
Jan 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I was so excited to receive an ARC of The Sacred River. I adored The Painted Bridge and was keen to read more of Wendy's work.

The press release accompanying the book notes that it is "...akin to that of E.M. Forster..." which is completely accurate. I adore this wonderful novel and hope you will too.

Set in Victorian London, and later Egypt, it tells the tale of Harriet Heron. Sickly all her life (we later discover she has asthma), both she and her Mother are resigned to her premature death. With
Marcela (BookaholicCat)
Originally posted at The Bookaholic Cat

The Sacred River by Wendy Wallace is the story of three women, mother, daughter, and aunt and their journey of self-discovery.

Harriet, the daughter, has suffered all her life of severe asthma. The weather and pollution of London hasn’t helped with her condition and she knows she doesn’t have much time left. Her doctor knows this as well and recommends her parents to take her to Egypt, where the drier and warmer climate would be beneficial for her. Her paren
J.S. Dunn
Jun 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
, 3.5 / 4 stars. Thin on atmosphere, so that at times the reader is gasping like the asthmatic daughter, Harriet. Could have used more zeitgeist as to the troubles causing unrest in Egypt at the time, specifically 1882. Until the final 20 pages, the story is devoid of details setting up civil unrest except for oblique references to poverty. If it is deliberate on the author's part to make the mother, Louisa, and her daughter Harriet oblivious to the culture around them, then a fine job has been ...more
Suzie Grogan
Apr 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
I have been lucky enough to read a proof copy of this book, which isn't out just yet. I have to say it made a wonderful companion on a trip to Paris. It is not a sequel to The Painted Bridge (one of my favourite books of 2012, just out in paperback)but it does involve a sister of the main character of that book and takes us further into their troubled childhood.

I won't spoil the story, but this is a book that is a web of romance, betrayal, history and politics, set as it is in 19th century Egyp
Apr 19, 2016 rated it did not like it
I have read all of Wendy's books! They all suck.
Lynn Horton
Sep 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
I first read fiction about Egypt via the late Barbara Mertz, aka Elizabeth Peters. She is a hard act to follow. I’m not a romance reader, so was wary about a book that markets itself as a “vivid, romantic novel” about three women debarking for far off lands. But I’m glad I read it.

WHAT I LIKED: Wallace captures the locations from London to Luxor beautifully. Her characters are interesting and engaging, and I cared about what happened to them. The romance was minimal and respectfully handled—not
Jun 28, 2017 rated it liked it
This is a story of three English women, mother-daughter-aunt trio, who never having left the English shore until now - set out on a trip to Egypt with minds full of apprehension and hearts full of hope.
Even though closely connected with one another, by family, by blood and a common goal – i.e. to see improvement in the daughter’s health who suffers from asthma, each of them set sail with different expectations from the journey.
Little do they know or anticipate the surprises in store for them a
Susan Ecker
Oct 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Great perspective of Egypt in the 1880's and the English/Arab dynamic. Aunt Yael is a strong woman who shows growth. Louisa, the mom, is a bit two-dimensional but Harriet is strong a character. It seems nicely tied up package but was still a good read.
Julie Martz
Aug 02, 2014 rated it liked it
3.5 stars
This book was beautifully written and I was impressed with the author’s thorough research, which was clearly evident in the book and made it that much more readable. I was also entranced by her ability to capture the mood and spirit of the country, which doesn’t seem to have changed much over the last hundred years. The sights, sounds, language, and people were all very tangible. The author is a talented writer with the ability to entrance the reader with the beauty of her words.

I did f
Jun 23, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
The theme of this work of historical fiction is the journey of self-discovery. Three women travel to Egypt in 1882, and their lives are changed as a result. Harriet Heron is 23; a severe asthmatic, she convinces her doctor to persuade her mother Louisa to take her to Egypt in hopes of improving her health. Harriet’s father Blundell agrees but insists that his spinster sister Yael accompany his wife and daughter.

For Harriet, the trip is not just an attempt to ease her asthma; it is also an attem
Jul 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The Sacred River means I should let you know that since Harriet and Louisa are mother and daughter, their storylines are the main focus of the novel and Aunt Yael is there with them in the background as a shoulder of support for Harriet and as a sister figure for Louisa. Though, she has troubles and problems of her own, I felt that her complete story was not fleshed out and it isn't until the end that the reader understands why.

There are a numerous cast of characters including, The Heron Famil
Felicity Terry
A lovely moody, Gothic cover that to me shouted of a hauntingly mystical novel. A synopsis that spoke of a reclusive invalid, Victorian London fogs, spells inspired by the Book of The Dead, a dangerous friendship, a voyage to Alexandria - combine all these things and this should have been the perfect read for me and yet ....

An invalid, a severe asthmatic, a prisoner if you will in her own body. Main character Harriet's life 'over almost over before its begun'. As a fellow asthmatic I found mysel
Lolly K Dandeneau
Apr 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
I received this book via Netgalley and the kindle version I had is a bit messy and yet I enjoyed the story enough that I didn't want to wait for it to be fixed. So I soldiered on, and was rewarded with a good yarn. That in itself tells you it is a book worth reading.
I'm a sucker for Victorian London, and a story about an ill young woman already feeling defeated by life who has a wish to see Egypt stirred my interest. It is a story about the bond between mother and daughter, and a yearning to lo
Lisa Furey
Jul 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book wasn't what I expected at all! I thought it would be some sort of historical fiction
between Victorian London and Ancient Egypt but it takes a different turn.
I really enjoyed this book and it stayed in my head a while after reading it
In Victorian London Harriet Heron a 22 year old, is lying on her sick bed, she is what her Mother calls and invalid and has been most of her life due to asthma. Her doctor hints that there is nothing much more he can do for her now and death is near. Harrie
Apr 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
I have been lucky enough to receive a proof copy of this book, for review, that will be released soon. (1st book) The Painted Bridge is one of my favorite books! And though it touches on the back stroy of the sisters troubled history, The Sacred River gives the reader a wider glimps into one of the sisters own troubled childhood. I reccomend them both! read them out of order... its ok. :-) It works.

This story takes you on a ride of revenge, regret, and politics, set in 19th century Egypt, wher
Sep 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
This was a very entertaining read! I picked up this book for some cabin reading on a vacation in Colorado. I got it because I was intrigued by the description, not realizing it was by the same author who wrote The Painted Bridge, the last book I chose at random when I was here! I love the author's writing--she has a knack for describing emotions and the various reasons why people do the things that they do. I also really enjoyed the descriptions of the Egyptian hieroglyphs and the ones that one ...more
Oct 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Harriet Heron’s life is almost over before it has even begun. At just twenty-three years of age, she is an invalid, overprotected and reclusive. Before it is too late, she must escape the fog of Victorian London for a place where she can breathe.

Together with her devoted mother, Louisa, her god-fearing aunt, Yael, and a book of her own spells inspired by the Egyptian Book of the Dead, Harriet travels to a land where the air is tinged with rose and gold and for the first time begins to experience
Blodeuedd Finland
It's the story about 3 women on a journey of a lifetime.

First there is Harriet who is slowly fading away in London. The air is killing her. She is fascinated with ancient Egypt and gets her doctor to say that the fresh warm air would be best for her (and it is, just that was very far away.) She in her loneliness is actually something of a scholar. But at the same time she is very naive in her quest for freedom and to live.

Louisa is her mother and her secret from the past comes back to haunt them
The Sacred River tells the story of Harriet, an asthmatic young woman in Victorian England, as she discovers herself and comes out from the well-meaning oppression of her family. The London fog is making it hard for her to breathe, so she convinces her parents to let her travel to Egypt for a change in climate. She has a passion for ancient Egypt and hieroglyphics that she would like to experience in the ancient tombs before the asthma takes her life. Once in Egypt with her mother Louisa and her ...more
Mar 25, 2014 rated it liked it
It took me a long time to get into this book. The story was slow to advance and did not seem to be going anywhere. Perhaps I missed some nuances in the plot, but I was never clear on why Augustus' son was so determined to exact revenge on Louisa? The storyline on her sister in law Yeol seemed a distraction not related to the main theme, though I came to realize late on that she too was "finding" anew purpose to life in Egypt. I persevered with the book and warmed to the invalid Harriet, blossomi ...more
Jul 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
We have been fortunate to get advance copies of The Sacred River, which is our summer reading recommendation!

The detail and range of the story, from Victorian London to exploring Egypt, is stunning. The development of the three central female characters on their different paths is captivating.

To read more about the book trailer and contents, see the author's blog which has lots of her historical research on it- including what Victorian women packed to go travelling:
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I grew up in Kent, in England, and later graduated in Media Studies from what was then Central London Polytechnic. I worked first as a photographer, then for many years as a feature writer, before turning to fiction.

I’ve written for the Times, the Times Educational Supplement, the Guardian, the Telegraph and many other magazines and newspapers.

My journalism, on Sudan and later on schools, led to