The Egyptologist by Arthur Phillips


I've thought of reading Arthur Phillips' Prague several times, but just hadn't gotten to it. I came across Jennifer's recommendation to read The Egyptologist recently, so I picked that up at the library. What an unusual book it is, told in letters and a journal by two unreliable sources. It didn't help that I read a section near the end at 4:00 am when I couldn't sleep, and later confirmed that, well, I may have been asleep while I was turning some of those pages.

I was so unclear about the ending of the book, I turned to Mr. Google for some help and found this review by The Book Blog of Evil which has cheered me up considerably. It is a brilliant summary of the book which I couldn't equal and I agree with the critique. She points out many clever bits Phillips has given us.

I would say I did assume early on that Trilipush was actually Paul Caldwell, and I read to learn how this came about and was able to get that even with my flawed reading. I admire the variety of voices, though the relentless self-delusion of Trilipush and to a lesser extent of Ferrell wore thin. I felt Phillips was having fun writing this and could have used some restraint. The main action is set, of course, in Egypt in the 1920s and Howard Carter's discovery of King Tut's tomb figures into the story. 

Despite my strong reservations about The Egyptologist, I still want to read Prague. And I want to keep an eye on The Book Blog of Evil.

Arthur Phillips, The Egyptologist, Random House, 2004, 383 pages.

1 comment


  • My favorite Arthur Phillips novel is his Shakespeare send-up, ‘The Tragedy of Arthur’. I’ve read Prague and A Song For You also. Haven’t read The Egyptologist though.


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