Nile Cat is a recently completed project. It’s a novel for readers of 12-14 yrs, set in Egypt in both Victorian and ancient times. Much of the background detail is drawn from a memoir A Few Egyptian Memories written by my great grandmother, May Tyssen-Amherst concerning her first experiences of Egypt, which she visited when she was just fourteen.
I came across this document while researching for the biography I am writing on the Tyssen-Amhersts. It was an incredibly exciting discovery as it is rare to find a child’s view of Egypt. She writes about pillow fights in a royal hareem, riding ponies by moonlight along the Chubra Road, nights camping beside the Great Pyramid, and much more. Most British girls were not taken to Egypt until after they were ‘out’, and so in their late teens, or early twenties. If you want to know more then maybe read May Tyssen-Amherst and the Crocodile in the Well.
I have come to know May well over the last few years through reading her travel journals. She was a remarkably intrepid traveller, and recorded her journeying with an artist’s eye and a great sense of humour. As I read her memoir describing her early days in Egypt, I realised what a wonderful setting for an adventure it would make…
The year is 1871 and Queen Victoria is on the throne when fourteen-year-old twin Rose Evering and her twin sister, Lily board the SS Australia set sail with their parents for Egypt. Rose has been longing to go to Egypt for as long as she can remember. Now she’s on her way to the greatest adventure of her life.
From the moment Rose meets Mr Baxter on board the SS Australia, she feels increasingly uneasy. Why is he following them? What does he want? She knows little about him except he’s dangerous. When she’s given a small stone cat her dreams are filled by the unfolding story of Miut, an ancient cat of the Temple of Osiris and Hori, the boy who looks after her.
Now she and Lily must fulfil an ancient quest which takes them through the streets of Cairo, up the Great Pyramid of Giza, and deep under the ancient Step Pyramid of Sakkara. If they fail, Rose is certain of just one thing – the price of that failure will be death.