Friday, January 2, 2015
The Woman Who Would Be King by Kara Cooney
3.5 out of 5 stars -- Fascinating nonfiction account of Hatshepsut, who at only age 20, set out to put herself into the highest office in Egypt - as King. As the book points out, she was the ultimate "working mother" whose ambition for a dynasty of her own was foiled only by her own womb. Since she did not bear any sons, her co-regent Thutmose III, was able to systematically obliterate all traces of her kingship after her death and perpetuate his own royal succession. "Her fate was to be erased, expunged, silenced."
The book reads much like a doctoral dissertation and there are footnotes and quite a bit of repetition, not all of it equally interesting. This is no fairy tale royal romance story, but one that any person interested in Egypt's history and rulers will want to read for its accurate portrayal of this incredible woman. The awkward phrasing of the work, with the author using phrases with the words such as "might", "probably", and "could" detracts somewhat from a definitive record of Hatshepsut's life since her personal feelings and reasons are not known. There is a bit of speculation, but these instances come from authoritative points of view and study, not pure conjecture.
I enjoyed it but couldn't help comparing its dry tone to a historical fiction novel about Hapshepsut by Stephanie Thornton. Oh we all love juicy stories about royalty and the Egyptian Pharaoh's reigns have always provided a glimpse into a dramatic lifestyle during those ancient times.
Thank you to NetGalley and Crown Publishing for the e-book ARC to review.