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Whispers in the Sand [Paperback]

Barbara Erskine
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)

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Book Description

6 Aug 2001

The gripping new suspense story by the bestselling author of LADY OF HAY and ON THE EDGE OF DARKNESS, is set in richly mysterious Egypt, where past and present elide.

Recently divorced, Anna Coburn decides to cheer herself up by retracing a journey her great grandmother made in the nineteenth century: a Nile cruise from Luxor to the Valley of the Kings.

Anna carries with her on the voyage two mementoes of her great-grandmother Louisa: an ancient Egyptian scent bottle, and the diary of that original Nile cruise, which has lain unread for a hundred years. As she follows in Louisa’s footsteps, Anna discovers in the diary the chilling secret of the scent bottle and is pursued by the same terrifying spectres as her great grandmother.



Product details

  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; New Ed edition (6 Aug 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0006512070
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006512073
  • Product Dimensions: 17.9 x 11.1 x 4.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 656,993 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

A historian by training, Barbara Erskine is the author of many bestselling novels that demonstrate her interest in both history and the supernatural, plus three collections of short stories. Her books have appeared in at least twenty-six languages. Her first novel, Lady of Hay, has sold over two million copies worldwide. She lives with her family in an ancient manor house near Colchester and in a cottage near Hay-on-Wye.

Photograph © Karolina Webb

Product Description

Amazon Review

Over the years, Barbara Erskine has been able to build up a considerable following for her densely plotted, imaginative novels of romantic suspense. Her particular speciality is the vigorously created world she imagines for her characters. In Whispers in the Sand, her heroine Anna Fox undertakes a Nile cruise from Luxor to Aswan, following the progress of a journey her great grandmother, Louisa, made in the 19th century. The details of the recently divorced Anna's odyssey are handled with dazzling authority, and even if the multiple love story at the centre of the narrative was not so adroitly handled, we would still be beguiled by the panoply of a powerfully drawn Egyptian journey.

Erskine never loses sight of the fact that the reader must be thoroughly engaged by the problems she sets for her characters. Anna takes on her trip two of Louisa's possessions (the latter was a famous artist): an Egyptian scent bottle from the distant past and a beautifully illustrated diary of the original cruise that no one has read for over a century. We are allowed to be caught up in a fascinating love story from the Victorian era as Anna reads the diary, and more sinister relics of the past (such as the glass bottle) give an edge to the romantic intrigue. As Anna's journey progresses, other members of the party seem to be interested in the mementoes, and there is a rivalry between two men for her attention.

However, the most compelling strand to Erskine's tale is the sinister haunting that Anna finds herself the victim of, as a mysterious presence begins to exert a grip over her. Readers nowadays are used to narratives that take place simultaneously in both the past and the present (such as AS Byatt's Possession, for instance), but the device is handled with particular skill here. In fact, those who have enjoyed such Barbara Erskine books as On the Edge of Darkness will probably be surprised at the sophisticated enjoyment on offer here: this is her most ambitious book yet, and her sensuous scene-setting is first-rate:

Louisa set down her pen and stared out of the window at the dark river outside. She had pulled over the lavish shutters to allow the smell of it, the warmth of the night air, the occasional breath of chill wind from the desert to enter her cabin. It all captivated her. She listened carefully. Above, the stars were violent sparks against the blue-black sky. There was a slight movement behind her, and she turned...
--Barry Forshaw --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

Recently divorced Anna Coburn cheers herself up by retracing a journey her great-mother Louise made in the nineteenth century, a Nile cruise from Luxor to the Valley of the Kings. She takes with her two mementoes of Louise, an ancient Egyptian scent bottle and her diary which has lain unread for 100 years in which she discovers a wonderful Victorian love story - and a chilling, more distant secret of the scent bottle as she finds herself pursued by the same terrifying spectres as her great grandmother.An eerie tale of romantic suspense by the author of the blockbusters Lady of Hay, Encounters, Distant Voices, On the Edge of Darkness et al.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely brilliant. 20 Aug 2010
By Pyewacket TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
Now, having read loads of books about Egyptian curses I initially thought 'oh no, not another one', but this is so different I forgot about some of the tat I had previously read:-)

Anna has recently divorced her overbearing and dominant husband and her self esteem is at an all time low that is until her Aunt tells her in no uncertain terms to pull herself together and go on holiday maybe to Egypt to retrace the steps her Great Grandmother took on a cruise in the mid nineteenth century. So armed with Louisa's diary and a small perfume bottle also Louisa's, off she goes.

She spends a lot of her time totally engrossed in the diary and discovering that there was more to her distant relative than she supposed............a love affair with her servant for one........scandalous in those days. However, when two men on the boat start vying for her attention and then strange ghosts are seen it soon becomes clear that the perfume bottle or ampulla is at the bottom of it. This bottle belonged to a priest and is alleged to hold the tears of Isis which would cure a dying Pharaoh. However, another Priest had other ideas for the cure thinking it an elixir of life..........they fought each other and both were killed and then entombed without ceremony to lie silent until graverobbers disturbed their peace and also found the ampulla.

Louisa also saw these phantoms in her day and then met a man who dabbled in the black arts who tried to first buy the ampulla off her then finally threatened her.........the threat worked but not on her, sadly another loved one died.

I don't wish to say much more because this book simply cries out to be read but one more thing.............there are a couple of stingers at the end of this book which I did not foresee which made it all the better.

Well done Ms Erskine.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars For Die-Hard Erskine Fans 24 Jun 2002
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Barbara Erskine re-explores her favorite themes of obsession, romance, and the supernatural in this 500+-page novel told against the exotic backdrop of the lush Nile banks and the fascinating monuments of Egypt's ancient kings.

In 1866, famous artist Louisa Shelley, newly widowed cruises down from Luxor to Ashram. She recounts her travel adventures through her paintings/sketches and in her diary. In particular she revels in the telling of a newfound love and his gift of an ancient scent bottle.

Now in modern times, Louisa's great-great-granddaughter, Anna, at odds with her own life, returns to the scene of her ancestor's adventure, bringing the diary and the scent bottle back to Egypt where their return initiates a chain of events which threaten Anna's very life. Feelings of greed, obsession,and jealousy stir amongst the passengers on-board Anna's cruise, but the main force unleashed whirls from the hub of the scent bottle, the contents of which is protected by two malevolent priests who drain the lifeforce of all those who come within the bottle's sphere of influence.

This particular foray into the supernatural is written very much in the more hurried style Ms Erskine employs in "On The Edge of Darkness". The characters are not as finely drawn as in her earlier successes, "Lady of Hay" and "Child of the Phoenix", nor does it contain the mind-chilling fear generated so frightfully well in "House of Echoes". Here, the frenetic state of the cruise passengers due from "exposure" to the priests and the bottle seems trite and a little too indignant to be considered realistic.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars be warned - spoiler 9 Oct 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
This was the first book I'd read by this author and picked it up after a trip to Egypt. I was loving the book until I got to the end.

SPOILER

The author does not finish off the story. I was so frustrated at the end that I was tempted to throw the book at the wall! It's not a short read either, so I felt rather cheated that I had put so much time into this only to be left hanging at the end.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
I am a great fan of Barbara Erskine and have read all her books so far. I would be hard pressed to choose a favourite. Whispers in the Sand does not disappoint - you can almost imagine yourself in Egypt experiencing the smells and tastes there. You have to keep turning the pages to see what happens to Anna - and to Louisa too! My only small criticism is the ending - its is sudden, too abrupt. I thought I had pages missing at first. Otherwise another excellent read. How long before the next book Barbara?
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Whispers in the sand 2?? 4 Oct 2012
By Hilary
Format:Paperback
Anna, following a messy relationship embarks on a trip to Egypt in an attempt to retrace her great grandmothers trip in the 19th century. Armed with her ancestor's diary and ancient bottle, strange supernatural forces come in to play along with present day problems. There is no lack of atmosphere and easy transitions backwards and forwards in time. There is suspense and there is in depth character detail BUT the ending? Well to be honest, there wasn't one!.
Even the author attempts to explain the lack of any conclusion in an "Afterthought". Her explaination? "That she sometimes chooses to leave characters at a significant turning point in their lives"
While I consider I have a fairly vivid imagination and can add various endings, I don't want to! I want to read a conclusion after 572 pages whether I like it or not. For me it was like reading a "Who done it?" and never finding out who did!
A real disapointment after a pretty good read.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Bobs about a bit into different time zones. Concentrate to keep up but it is worth the effort.
Published 4 days ago by Isola
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
This has been one of my favourite book since it's release. I have purchased a copy on my kindle to read when I go to Egypt and follow in the footsteps of the characters
Published 29 days ago by Heather Jane Parker
5.0 out of 5 stars Really good book
This is the second book I have read of Barbara Erskine. Really enjoyed it. Unexpected tail at the end. Do recommend it
Published 3 months ago by Linda Rowntree
5.0 out of 5 stars Holiday Reading
I enjoy reading all her books as I like the historical element behind them. Would recommend to anyone who likes this type of reading.
Published 5 months ago by Mrs J C Newport
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read
The first book I've read by B Erskine, couldn't put it down, great story & looking forward to reading more of her titles
So different from anything I've ever read, I... Read more
Published 7 months ago by claire
5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic
A real treasure of a story, captivating, couldn't put it down, had me looking for something scarey to happen, had the ability to make you feel the thrill of the unknown.
Published 7 months ago by alice
5.0 out of 5 stars Magic mystery and a mesmeric book
A fascinating and compelling read for people entranced with Egypt and interested in the spiritual.I couldn't put it down.
Mrskmking@hotmail.co.uk
Published 8 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars its a great read, if i had not already visited egypt this book would...
this book tells a story full of mystique following two people over different centuries, ,did not want to put it down
Published 8 months ago by natalie knight
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read
As someone who has always wanted to visit Egypt, but due to ill health cannot travel, this book was so good I actually felt as if I was travelling along the banks of the Nile with... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Laineyloos
4.0 out of 5 stars Egypt, such a lovely place.
It was great following the two trips along the Nile as we have done most of the same trips and could see them as the story unfolds. Read more
Published 10 months ago by snowey1
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