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September 19, 2021

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Icon book review: How about a little romance for Feb. 14th?

A romance is the background to a splendid tutorial on Egyptology, tombs and hieroglyphics

Reviewed by Robert McCool
How about a little romance for Feb. 14th?

In #1 New York Times Bestselling Author Jodi Picoult’s latest novel, the book of two ways (Ballentine Books, Isbn 978-1-4328-8334-8), romance is the background to a splendid tutorial on Egyptology, tombs, and hieroglyphics. With four pages of reference materials at the finish you can immerse yourself in a time far past knowing the details of that time are accurate and made simple for us to understand.

The romance is a little more difficult to imagine. The standard elements are here; desirable woman loved by two men, far far exotic places, and a choice to be made between the two ways to journey through life, and death. Add in a solid marriage, a daughter who is traveling herself through the difficult age of fourteen, and the prevalence of death to fill in the background.

The woman, Dawn, is a death doula, helping people pass the time before they die with any regrets, or things undone. Then she is influenced by a death, surviving to question her own regrets,  to return to a time before her fourteen years of marriage to Brian, a brilliant Quantum Physicist. To a time when she is a grad student of Egyptology and working at a tomb with a forceful leader, Wyatt.

Wyatt becomes Dawn’s first love, and a powerful love it is. But when Dawn’s mother is dying she returns to the States and says goodbye to all things Egypt. Including Wyatt, and her consuming love for him. She sees her mother into death, and that is how and why she becomes a death doula. She meets Brian, and soon she is pregnant with a daughter. She and Brian marry, and her journey through fourteen years of marriage steer her down one way of life.

But then a death drives the thought of Egypt, and Wyatt, flies her back to face a regret she formed long ago. She begins working with a confused Wyatt, and a renewed romance is kindled like the burning hot sands of Egypt’s daytime. This is the other way of life for her. She tells Wyatt that he has a daughter back in the States, and they then fly across the ocean to America, only to crash in the plane.

She introduces Wyatt to Brian and his daughter, Meret. They take the measure of each other while Dawn is in the hospital with a head injury. Brian acts brave, afraid of losing Dawn, and Meret is angry, but warms eventually enough to sit and talk with Wyatt.

Dawn says, “We don’t make our decisions, our decisions make us.” Thus, the book of two ways.

I liked this book. It is by turns scientific and rich in imagining. The decisions are hard, but life continues. I hope you like it as much as I did.

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