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Crocodile on the Sandbank (Amelia Peabody, #1)
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Susan | 9635 comments Mod
Welcome to our Buddy Read of Crocodile on the Sandbank Crocodile on the Sandbank (Amelia Peabody, #1) by Elizabeth Peters the first in the Amelia Peabody series, first published in 1975.

Amelia Peabody is Elizabeth Peters' best loved and brilliant creation, a thoroughly Victorian feminist who takes the stuffy world of archaeology by storm with her shocking men's pants and no-nonsense attitude!

In this first Egyptian mystery, our headstrong heroine decides to use her substantial inheritance to see the world. On her travel, she rescues a gentlewoman in distress - Evelyn Barton-Forbes - and the two become friends. The two companions continue to Egypt where they face mysteries, mummies and the redoubtable Radcliffe Emerson, and outspoken archaeologist, who doesn't need women to help him solve mysteries - at least that's what he thinks!

This may become a new buddy read series for us, as we come to the end of some long-running series. So, come join in with the first and let us know your thoughts.

Please feel free to post spoilers in this thread.


Jill (dogbotsmum) | 1948 comments I really liked this a lot. Amelia Peabody is a great character, self-reliant, confident, in fact rather pushy, but with a sense of humour and a good heart. I don't normally like romance in books, but I found Amelia's story to be entertaining, Evelyn's was somewhat sad and her fainting did get a bit too much for me. The setting being in Egypt, did convey the heat and sand, and the need for suitable clothing.
I will definitely read on in this series and hope the books are as entertaining and lively as this one


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 2573 comments Jill wrote: "I really liked this a lot. Amelia Peabody is a great character, self-reliant, confident, in fact rather pushy, but with a sense of humour and a good heart. I don't normally like romance in books, b..."

I agree on all your points, Jill - Amelia is really one of my favorite fictional characters- her strength, humor and resilience, especially in Victorian times, were a great part of the fun. She’s like a one-woman tornado, and that becomes a recurring theme - her dogged determination and decency, and strength of character. I reread the series a few years ago, and was pleased at how well it held up for me; I would enjoy rereading again, whether or not the group does - in these trying times, Amelia’s can-do attitude and moral certainty are a balm, and her humor a tonic!


Jill (dogbotsmum) | 1948 comments I am really hoping the group carries on with the series, if not I think I will slowly work my way through.


Roman Clodia | 758 comments I'd definitely join a group read - I suspect I originally read the books out of order and so would like to reread them properly as the family history clearly matters. And they're hilarious!


Elizabeth (Alaska) Jill wrote: "I am really hoping the group carries on with the series, if not I think I will slowly work my way through."

I thought that was the plan - replaces Barnaby and one other?


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 2573 comments Elizabeth (Alaska) wrote: "Jill wrote: "I am really hoping the group carries on with the series, if not I think I will slowly work my way through."

I thought that was the plan - replaces Barnaby and one other?"


I thought so, too, I guess we will see.


Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8606 comments Mod
Jill, I have seen a suggestion somewhere that Evelyn's fainting is a possibly a bit of a spoof on Gothic romances where the heroines are always swooning!


Susan | 9635 comments Mod
If there is interest, we can certainly carry the series on. We are trying to finish off Nicholas Blake, Caroline Graham and Ngaio Marsh also comes to an end this month.


message 10: by Jill (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jill (dogbotsmum) | 1948 comments Judy wrote: "Jill, I have seen a suggestion somewhere that Evelyn's fainting is a possibly a bit of a spoof on Gothic romances where the heroines are always swooning!"

I thought that had something to do with tight corsets


Elizabeth (Alaska) I guess here is where I got the idea we were going to read this series as buddy reads.

https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...


Susan | 9635 comments Mod
Yes, I had asked for some new suggestions for buddy series. I know we tried a couple previously, but they weren't very successful.


Carolien (carolien_s) | 469 comments I enjoyed the characters and the plot. It was a reread and I remembered enjoying it, but couldn't figure out why I never continued with the series. I think I now understand why.

What detracts for me from the book is the degree to which it plays to every colonialist stereotype possible. A sentence like "Like all primitive groups, the village retired as soon as the sun went down" annoys me thoroughly. The "primitives" is part of a millennia old culture, but more than that rural places in all societies went to bed early before electricity and gas were widely available. It is the way of life if you have to get up at sunrise everyday to use every available hour of daylight.

There is an argument to be made that they reflect the characters as they would have acted in the era and I accept that. However, there are casual derogatory statements like this sentence above that could have been avoided.

I also compare this to a book like The Map of Love which is set in the same period, but reflects a much more complex Egyptian society that is missing here.

It's a pity, but I don't think I'll participate in this buddy read.


message 14: by Roman Clodia (last edited Sep 13, 2020 07:56AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Roman Clodia | 758 comments Carolien wrote: "What detracts for me from the book is the degree to which it plays to every colonialist stereotype possible."

I'm also very sensitive to colonialist stereotypes, Carolien, but it seems to me that Peters is depicting Amelia as the epitome of Victorian womanhood and part of her character is that she is uncritical and wholly embracing of the British Empire and all the values associated with that. I don't think that Peters is necessarily sharing and enforcing Amelia's views and sometimes the humour stems from Amelia's misguided or limited opinions.

As the series develops, at least some of her opinions get challenged not least about inter-race marriages...

The series also captures the extent to which early archaeology as a discipline *was* bound up with empire and class, with funding coming from the wealth of rich British, French and German amateurs rather than academic institutions. One of the things that I love is that all the fun is built on solid historical foundations.

Of course, I completely respect your opinions and your right not to read on (!) but Peters is nuanced on the colonial question, I think.


message 15: by Judy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8606 comments Mod
Interesting discussion - as I've only read this one book I don't think I can come to conclusions on the author's attitudes. I am now wondering whether we will see Egyptian characters feature more in the later books - here really all the main characters are Brits.


message 16: by Jill (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jill (dogbotsmum) | 1948 comments Susan wrote: "Yes, I had asked for some new suggestions for buddy series. I know we tried a couple previously, but they weren't very successful."

Does this mean that the Cadfael series will no longer be buddy read? I do realise that the group runs on the lines that one of the mods reads the books and can understand that this can affect the choices, but it would be handy to know when the group will no longer be reading a series.


message 17: by Elizabeth (Alaska) (last edited Sep 13, 2020 12:40PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Elizabeth (Alaska) The one I know that is no longer an "official" buddy read is Bobby Owens. Jill, you and I and a couple of others have decided we want to read them anyway. The mods have been gracious to give us space. I thought there were usually a couple others running simultaneously in addition to the annual challenge reads and group reads - this one and the Cadfael - but I could be wrong.


message 18: by Jill (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jill (dogbotsmum) | 1948 comments Elizabeth (Alaska) wrote: "The one I know that is no longer an "official" buddy read is Bobby Owens. Jill, you and I and a couple of others have decided we want to read them anyway. The mods have been gracious to give us spa..."

This is one of the reasons I said it would be good to know if series is not going to be a group read anymore, then individuals can make their own minds up as to whether to continue


message 19: by Susan in NC (last edited Sep 13, 2020 01:34PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 2573 comments Roman Clodia wrote: "Carolien wrote: "What detracts for me from the book is the degree to which it plays to every colonialist stereotype possible."

I'm also very sensitive to colonialist stereotypes, Carolien, but it ..."


Also, I always felt that (view spoiler)I think Peters used that character to balance Amelia’s picture of Victorian British womanhood!

But I, too, respect Carolien’s views on reading/not reading this series, if we continue it as a group.


message 20: by Elizabeth (Alaska) (last edited Sep 13, 2020 01:43PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Elizabeth (Alaska) Jill wrote: "This is one of the reasons I said it would be good to know if series is not going to be a group read anymore, then individuals can make their own minds up as to whether to continue"

I did ask about Bobby Owens and Susan (I think) said the moderators did not plan to continue it.


Roman Clodia | 758 comments Yes, good point Susan in NC that Emerson's scepticism about conventional racial, religious and social hierarchies undermines Amelia's upholding of British imperialist values - and Peters' light touch turns this on-going marital squabbling into part of her comedy.

Judy, there are Egyptian characters who feature prominently as the series develops but Peters keeps it realistic for the historical period.


message 22: by Jay-me (Janet) (last edited Sep 13, 2020 11:45PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jay-me (Janet)  | 164 comments I read this a while ago and have been slowly working my way through again but with the audiobooks this time. I have reached Book 5.

One thing that I will be doing differently this time is not listening in number order - two of the later books are out of sequence.
My original review of the whole series from 2014 (view spoiler)


message 23: by Judy (last edited Sep 13, 2020 11:53PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8606 comments Mod
Following the discussion on buddy reads, we've just added the next Cadfael book, The Leper of St. Giles in December, and the next Amelia Peabody one, The Curse of the Pharaohs, in January. Looking forward to lots of good historical reading over the winter!


Pamela (bibliohound) | 334 comments I read this earlier this year, and enjoyed it as a break from more serious books. It wasn’t great as a mystery, the culprit was obvious and it seemed to take forever to tie things up, but I did enjoy Amelia’s character. I’ll definitely read the second one in January.


Carolien (carolien_s) | 469 comments My final comments on this one. The strengths of the book for me is in the representation of archaeology in the Victorian era (which I think Emerson conveys really well), and the Eqyptian history. This is obviously the author's area of expertise and I enjoyed it.

I also accept that Amelia's views are consistent with the era and accurately present the colonialist perspective. However, my concern remains that the Egyptians are uniformly presented as lazy/dirty/not as intelligent/not as brave as the colonialists. There are also a number of statements that could have been written with less racist overtones without changing the context of the story.

For me the question is whether I can recommend this to any of my African friends and the answer is definitely "No" as I cannot support the racist tones. I also recognise that my perspective is informed by the fact that I was born and have lived in post-colonial Africa all my life.

I made the same decision to abandon the Ngaio Marsh buddy read for this reason as I could not deal with her racist attitude either. That does not mean I want the rest of the group to abandon their buddy read as I respect everybody's right to choose their reading.


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 2573 comments Jay-me (Janet) wrote: "I read this a while ago and have been slowly working my way through again but with the audiobooks this time. I have reached Book 5.

One thing that I will be doing differently this time is not list..."


Great review!


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 2573 comments Carolien wrote: "My final comments on this one. The strengths of the book for me is in the representation of archaeology in the Victorian era (which I think Emerson conveys really well), and the Eqyptian history. T..."

Thanks, Carolien - I love this group and our exchanges because I learn so much about other people and their views and perspectives. I may never get to visit all of your countries, but it’s such a treat to discuss books and reading, something we all enjoy, and share our thoughts.


message 28: by Bicky (new)

Bicky | 332 comments With regard to Carolien's comments let me add my bit as an Indian. While reading these writers I have learnt to disregard the stray comments about the natives as otherwise there would be so many authors that I would have had to avoid.

But I do have a problem when a native is brought in as a character with a speaking role. Thus the South Asian and African students in Hickory Dickory Dock were quite irritating. This became even worse with the character of Ali in Cat Among the Pigeons as he was depicted as a weak ruler because of his love of democracy - obviously unsuitable for a non-Western ruler. Further he was made unsuitable because of his education in a good English school where he presumably came to love fair play etc. This completely neglects the fact that lot of Englishmen were able to study in such schools and yet rule over non-Westerners in a despotic manner.

I would also like to remind the members of how many of us reacted to suggestions that a woman should happily give up her profession after getting married.


message 29: by Bicky (new)

Bicky | 332 comments I read this book a few moths back and was disappointed by the level of mystery. It is good to know that this situation will improve with the later books.


Sandy | 2632 comments Mod
Bicky wrote: "I read this book a few moths back and was disappointed by the level of mystery. It is good to know that this situation will improve with the later books."

My opinion is that they are never great mysteries but I love them for the setting, the wonderful cast of characters, and Amelia herself.


Roman Clodia | 758 comments Just to add to my comment upthread about race, this is the first book and Amelia barely meets any Egyptians but later in the series various Egyptian characters become part of her extended family.


message 32: by Elizabeth (Alaska) (last edited Sep 15, 2020 09:57AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Elizabeth (Alaska) Maybe I'll just abandon this series too. I did so want to read more, but it looks to becoming controversial.

Let's just get this in the open. When the phrase "the sun never sets on the British Empire" came into being, it was because the Brits dominated peoples all over the world, most especially people of color. They did so because they thought themselves superior and other people inferior. I do not for a minute think that feeling of superiority was limited to the Brits, by the way. It was the way it was - not how I believe it is now.

We cannot erase history. We cannot undo things we have done (all/each of us, not just nations).


message 33: by Judy (last edited Sep 15, 2020 11:04AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8606 comments Mod
As I said earlier, I've only read this one book and don't think I can fully tell the author's attitudes from that. I had possibly too readily assumed the author was being satirical about Amelia's attitudes on empire, but I will bear in mind Carolien and Bicky's comments when going on to the next book.

I do look forward to Amelia's attitudes being challenged, as RC said they will be in the future books. It's a pity they were not challenged more in this one.


message 34: by Judy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8606 comments Mod
Bicky wrote: "I read this book a few moths back and was disappointed by the level of mystery. It is good to know that this situation will improve with the later books."

I thought the same - this seemed more of a romance than a mystery. I kept expecting that someone would find a body!


Tara  | 764 comments Despite not being a huge romance fan, I particularly enjoyed the Amelia/Radcliffe relationship (or as they refer to each other Peabody and Emerson). Perhaps the "I hate you, I hate you, now kiss me" element was teased out a bit too far along into the book, but for a long running series, it was actually lightning fast.
Who knew parasols could be such dangerous weapons? Definitely more useful for Amelia than attempting to use a gun.


Susan | 9635 comments Mod
I have finished this. A little too much romance and fainting for my liking, but I liked Peabody and her parasol. I can't remember how far I read on, when I first tried this series - maybe 2 or 3 novels? I look forward to trying the next.


message 37: by Nick (new) - added it

Nick | 110 comments Tara, Susan - I don’t go out of my way looking for romance either, but I enjoy it when an author captures a combination of humour and understanding between a couple, as I think happens in this series. A good example of initial animosity turned to humour/understanding arises in Lyndsey Davies’ Falco series, of course.


Susan | 9635 comments Mod
I suppose the author did wrap it up by the end of the book - rather than the tedious 'will they, won't they,' of some other series. I felt like telling Wimsey to give up and do some sleuthing more than once!


Sandy | 2632 comments Mod
Nick wrote: "Tara, Susan - I don’t go out of my way looking for romance either, but I enjoy it when an author captures a combination of humour and understanding between a couple, as I think happens in this seri..."

Falco is a good example Nick, and another one of my favorite series.


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 2573 comments Susan wrote: "I suppose the author did wrap it up by the end of the book - rather than the tedious 'will they, won't they,' of some other series. I felt like telling Wimsey to give up and do some sleuthing more ..."

Yes! So dreary when it goes on, book after book! Ugh!


Susan | 9635 comments Mod
I guess some of us are more romantic than others ;)


Roman Clodia | 758 comments Neither Amelia nor Emerson are will-they-won't-they people, so as a point of character I'd expect them to be decisive. I like their form of affectionate bickering in my romance :)


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 2573 comments Roman Clodia wrote: "Neither Amelia nor Emerson are will-they-won't-they people, so as a point of character I'd expect them to be decisive. I like their form of affectionate bickering in my romance :)"

Yes, I think it’s more honest, you never fail to understand where each of them stands on any disagreement!


Michaela | 306 comments I finished this today, and after a funny beginning with a self-donfident heroine, it becomes rather boring, and it´s mostly about this romance that ends as we supposed and which isn´t to my gusto. Emerson is much too unpleasant for Peabody. The end is rushed too. As you said, too little mystery. Wonder if anyone who read the others in the series can recommend which one to read best?

I read The Leper of St. Giles, but would like to continue the Cadfael series! :)


message 45: by Judy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8606 comments Mod
Michaela, I'm hoping the romance will be more background in the later books and that we will get a bit more mystery!


message 46: by Susan in NC (last edited Sep 29, 2020 05:24PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 2573 comments As a long-time fan who read and collected the whole series, it’s hard to be impartial! But, once (view spoiler) But both are outspoken and opinionated, so their relationship is never dull! The second book begins in England, and things are more settled, so maybe give it a go, see what you think? I hope that helps, I didn’t want to give any spoilers.

Agree with Michaela on Cadfael, another favorite of mine!


Julie | 6 comments Susan in NC wrote: "As a long-time fan who read and collected the whole series, it’s hard to be impartial! But, once [spoilers removed] But both are outspoken and opinionated, so their relationship is never dull! The ..."

I read the whole series as well Susan, but so long ago now that I can’t remember much of it! I thought it might be nice to revisit it with the group, or at least this first one or two.


Roman Clodia | 758 comments I would agree completely with Susan in NC: the series does involve murders but I'd say the emphasis is as much on the developing Emerson family and their relationships, and there are other romances to come.

For me, the delight is in the writing of Amelia's characteristic voice, the people and the Egyptology - but if you're looking for more traditional murder mysteries, this might not be the series for you.


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 2573 comments Roman Clodia wrote: "I would agree completely with Susan in NC: the series does involve murders but I'd say the emphasis is as much on the developing Emerson family and their relationships, and there are other romances..."

Thank you, RC, you put it much more clearly than I, especially in relation to how it compares to traditional mysteries! And yes, there was always Amelia’s voice at the forefront, and the family, friends, Egyptology and sense of adventure and escapist fun - for me, anyway!


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 2573 comments Julie wrote: "Susan in NC wrote: "As a long-time fan who read and collected the whole series, it’s hard to be impartial! But, once [spoilers removed] But both are outspoken and opinionated, so their relationship..."

Yes, me, too, Julie - it’s been years for me, I’ve dipped back in over the last few years and was pleased to see they had held up for me, entertainment-wise. Like revisiting old friends, and the enjoyment I had when I first read them.


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