Little Egypt

Lesley Glaister

Salt Publishing are proud to present Little Egypt, the twelfth novel by the immensely talented Lesley Glaister. Winner of the Somerset Maugham, Betty Trask and Yorkshire Post Author of the Year prizes, Glaister’s work has also been on numerous literary award short and longlists over the years, and several of her dramas have been broadcast on BBC Radio 4.

Little Egypt is a once well-to-do country house. Now derelict and trapped on a small island of land between a railway, a dual carriageway and a superstore, it looks deserted ... but it isn’t. Nonagenarian twins, Isis and Osiris, now in their nineties, still live in Little Egypt, the home they were born in. For their long lives they have always remained here, guarding a terrible secret.

Back in the 1920s, Isis and Osiris lived in Little Egypt with their obsessive Egyptologist parents, Evelyn and Arthur, this apparently idyllic sprawl of a dwelling hiding the secrets of a dysfunctional family life. When Evelyn and Arthur leave home to search for the fabled tomb of Herihor, the twins are left with housekeeper Mary to wonder when their reckless, self-centred parents will return. Isis is lonely and anxious about her twin, Osiris who, desperate to impress his parents, has developed a similar passion for all things Egyptian, and is convinced they will return successful from their quest — rich and famous. And then there’s Uncle Victor, returned from the war in a state of hyper-sensitivity, invading their lives with his perplexing moods and erratic affections. Without really considering the consequences, Victor, Isis and Osiris set off for Egypt to search for Evelyn and Arthur, setting in motion a chain of events which will dramatically change all of their lives forever.

Now, in 2002, living in a state of destitution, the elderly twins’ lives seem to be drawing to a lost and miserable close — until a chance meeting between Isis and young American anarchist Spike, sparks an unlikely friendship and proves a catalyst for change.

Looping between the 1920s and the present day, Little Egypt is a beautifully-observed novel about the loss of innocence, parental neglect and the eternal human quest to ‘belong’. By turns poignantly humorous, deeply moving and mysterious, it also evokes the wonder and majesty of Howard Carter’s Egypt on the cusp of Western discovery. This enormously accomplished novel took twenty years to come to fruition: it is well worth the wait.

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