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Walking Across Egypt

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  5,342 ratings  ·  557 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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3.90  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,342 ratings  ·  557 reviews

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Dec 04, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  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
Jun 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of William Faulkner and James Thurber
Oh the humor!! Oh the catty chatty, wit and wisdom!! Such a wonderful little southern tale of good graces, changing times, senior sensibilities, do-gooder-hypocrites, nosy neighbors, kindly generosities, hearth and home hospitality, and redeeming graces.

Clyde Edgerton has brilliantly captured the essence of small town southern life during the 70's in this sparse little novel. Told primarily through the voice of Mattie - a feisty, god-fearing, septuagenarian - this is a storytellers delight. A t
Vannessa Anderson
Sep 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
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
Apr 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: re-reads
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
Jan 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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 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
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
Jul 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: pop-fiction
"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
Angela Spencer
Jan 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
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.
Oct 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've had this book for decades, tried several times to read it, but couldn't get interested. After reading an article about Clyde Edgerton in this morning's paper, I started it again, loved it, and read half the book this afternoon.
* * * * *
I must not have opened the book when I took it on vacations in the past. This is a wonderful little book, very sweet and heartwarming, exciting and funny. I want to go live with Miss Mattie and eat her country cooking!
Mar 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: southern-lit
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.
Julie  Durnell
Jun 09, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: southern
A heart warming southern tale of an elderly woman still living on her own but "slowing down"!-sugary as sweet tea!

I enjoyed this book. I deducted a star for a gratuitous use of the N-word during a baseball reference. I just could not see the point of it. It also had a lot of religious references that got tiring after a while.

I did love Mattie and the cast of characters with all of their faults. I’m not religious but we could use more Christians in the world like Mattie who truly believed helping folks was the only way to be. Truth is, most Christians these days don’t act that Christian, but not Mattie, she
Apr 06, 2018 rated it liked it
I wish there was a rating of 3.5 so I could give it to this book.
Bob Mayer
Nov 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
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.
Jayne Charles
Jul 24, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Joyce Mccarten
Jul 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 27, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: just-fiction
This book put me in mind of another I've read, Olive Kitteridge. The reason it did so was because I found the main character unlikeable.

The story is about an older lady, a regular churchgoer who generally means well, who attempts to do her version of good to a young hood. She basically scores strong with him due to her cooking but she fails in most other respects.

She is a well-drawn character, but she's fussy, hide-bound, seriously judgmental and unconsciously racist. (She partially blames toda
Aug 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
I was offered this book by a friend, Mandee Strong. The cover isn't much to speak of, and that's typically how I judge a book. A look a the slow, Christian life of a 78-year-old woman who tries to do her best and loves to cook.

Overall, I'm at the stage of life where I look forward to being a 78-year-old lady with nobody to tend to except myself, So this story made me excited to grow old.


*For deodorant she uses baking soda and water.

*She stresses if she hasn't done her dishes right away and
Mar 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
I would have never read, picked up, or would have known this book existed if I didn't read it in my English class. I actually enjoyed this book a lot. We watched the movie in class too. They were both pretty good.
Sarah Hartfield
Apr 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was one of those "grab it off the shelf" things that happened serendipitously at the library when I was walking down an aisle sideways, hoping a title would pop out. I didn't need another book on my nightstand--I already had a stack, but when I read the dust jacket I knew it would be a fun read. I loved it! How a male author can nail the voice of an elderly lady so well, I have no idea, but it was perfect. Now I'm off to find his other books. I love discovering a new author I love!
Lana Hasper
Jul 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
"What if everybody did good unto the least of these?"
What a sweet, sweet story -- and funny to boot. I laughed out loud several times.
I think Maddie should name the dog Egypt.
Rating 4.5
Apr 11, 2015 rated it it was ok
Right off the bat Mattie Rigsbee lets the reader know that she is 78 years old and "slowing down" when she finds a stray dog on her porch. She has as much business keeping a dog as she has walking across Egypt. She calls the dogcatcher.

In spite of all the slowing down, Mattie still manages to cut her own grass, stay involved in church activities, cook up a storm for anyone and every occasion, get herself stuck in a bottomless chair, and harbor a juvenile who has escaped from the prison down the
Miss Starling
Aug 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
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.

Nov 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Michelle Hankes
I have been listening to this book on CD while driving and at times, it becomes frustrating. The narrator uses the same basic voice for all the male characters and the same basic voice for all the female characters. It becomes monotonous and the male characters sound angry, gruff, and like they are heavy drinkers from the south. The female characters all sound like 85-year old blue-hairs, which many of them are, but they all sound the same. It is a huge drawback to the sweet story of the book. T ...more
Clyde Edgerton can be quite good at capturing personalities of a small North Carolina Town. Mattie and those who touch her life, are all so well drawn and so regular and ordinary, that it is refreshing to read. You won't find a single wasp-waisted, sharpe tongued publisher's assistant, or any clever and resourceful intellectuals who can craft a solution to a problem using only the items in their pockets. No computer wizards cracking code or finding the answer to life's eternal questions.

Just 78
May 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
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.
Jun 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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!
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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
“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.” 11 likes
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