Monday, August 28, 2017

Ancient Egypt August 28

Britain’s best places to see: Ancient Egyptian artefacts

Servant girl carrying a jar, Northumberland Collection, EG4007, Oriental Museum, Durham University. © Durham University

The Ancient Egyptians are well known for their innovative everyday lives and their famously extravagant death rituals. Millions of Ancient Egyptian artefacts have made their way to the UK thanks to the efforts of early archaeologists, travellers and enthusiasts.

Valley of the Gods Slot by Yggdrasil Debuts Today

Ancient Gods remains a popular theme with slots game providers. The latest masterpiece by Yggdrasil is Valley of the Gods. This video slot game is fully compatible with mobile devices – Android and iOS, and has a RTP (return to player) of 96.2%. This Egyptian-themed slot game features multiple enticing elements such as invoking ancient incantations, generous multipliers and free lives. Valley of the Gods slot showcases the ancient Egyptian gods, Horus and Anubis.

Former Masonic lodge built in ancient Egyptian style is a curiosity in leafy eastern suburb Canterbury

A STRANGE building in the leafy eastern suburb of Canterbury has fascinated locals and visitors for decades.

Emulation Hall, a former Masonic centre, was built in 1927 and features ancient Egyptian motifs like a golden-winged dung beetle and astrological symbols.

Temple of Kom Ombo

The Temple of Kom Ombo is an unusual double temple constructed during the Ptolemaic period, which lasted from 108 to 47 BC. The ancient Egyptian place of worship features a unique engraving that is thought to be among the first representations of medical and surgical instruments.

Princess tomb

The recent discovery of the tomb of an ancient Egyptian princess from the Fifth Dynasty has opened a new chapter in the saga of the Abusir necropolis, says Nevine El-Aref.

An archaeological mission from the Czech Institute of Egyptology at the Charles University in Prague, who is carrying out routine excavations on the north side of the Abusir necropolis, 30km south of the Giza Plateau, has been taken by surprise with the discovery of an important rock-hewn tomb.

Egyptian Solar Boat Beam Damaged During Excavation

CAIRO, EGYPT—Archaeologists and restorers traveled to the Giza Plateau to investigate the condition of one of the beams of a solar boat buried along with the pharaoh Khufu, which was damaged during an excavation, according to a report from Ahram Online.

Why these authors forged a friendship is no mystery

This story starts at a kitchen table in Maryland and ends on the book world’s most prestigious bestseller list. In between is a memorable stop in Madison.

Elizabeth Peters was a highly popular writer of historical fiction, especially a series of mysteries featuring the amateur Egyptologist Amelia Peabody. Peters died in 2013.

As the obituaries noted, Elizabeth Peters was a pseudonym for Barbara Mertz, a Maryland author who chose the pen name utilizing the names of her two children: Elizabeth and Peter. Mertz died at 85, having completed about one-third of her 20th and final Amelia Peabody mystery.

Among the mourners at Mertz’s funeral was her close friend and fellow mystery author Joan Hess, who lives in Austin, Texas.

Explore Ancient Egypt with new Assassin’s Creed Origins cinematic trailer

Ancient Egypt, a land of majesty and intrigue, is disappearing in a ruthless fight for power. Unveil dark secrets and forgotten myths as you go back to the one founding moment: The Origins of the Assassin’s Brotherhood.

Start here, at the very beginning, with the never-before-told origin story of Assassin’s Creed. You are Bayek, protector of Egypt, whose personal story will lead to the creation of the Assassin’s Brotherhood.

Uncover lost tombs and explore the pyramids. Discover the secrets of the ancient mummies, Egyptian gods, and the last pharaohs.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Ancient Egypt August 21

Happy Eclipse Day!

From Kara Cooney's Facebook page: Many think this image - from the Egyptian tomb of Sennedjem, Theban Tomb 1 - is a full solar eclipse, with sun darkened and stars visible in the sky simultaneously. There was an eclipse on July 27th 1258 BCE @ Thebes; duration 3 min 12 secs, dated to year 22 of the 66 year reign of Ramses II. See this article.

Egypt loses 33,600 historical artefacts over 50 years
Stolen artifacts retrieved by the police (photo credit: AP/Khalil Hamra)

The Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities yesterday announced the loss of around 33,600 archaeological artefacts over more than half a century.

The ministry said in a statement that 32,638 artefacts had been lost over more than 50 years, according to recent inventory works.

Attempt to smuggle 18th century artefacts foiled at Egypt’s Hurghada port
The handle of the cane

Egyptian authorities have foiled an attempt to smuggle six 18th century artefacts at a port in the Red Sea resort city of Hurghada.

Ahmed Al-Rawi, the head of the Central Administration of Seized Antiquities Unit at the antiquities ministry, says that the seized artefacts were in the possession of a Saudi citizen.

Possible ancient monks' complex discovered in Minya excavations
Remains of the residential area

Excavation work in Minya has uncovered an ancient settlement that might be a monks’ complex, the antiquities ministry have said.
Ayman Ashmawi, the head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Department at the ministry, said that the settlement in the area besides the Al-Nassara necropolis in Al-Bahnasa includes a collection of rock-hewn tombs and a residential area, dating from the 5th century AD.

Malawi Museum survives 3 years after Rabaa sit-in dispersal

In August 2013 following the dispersal of Rabaa and Nahda sit-ins, pro-Muslim Brotherhood protesters stormed the Malawi Museum, leaving it almost completely looted. But after three years of renovation Malawi National Museum managed to survive again to become even better than before.

Archaeologists In Egypt Discover Three Millennia-Old Tombs
One of the three tombs discovered in al-Kamin al-Sahrawi area, south of Cairo (AFP)

The tombs excavated in the Al-Kamin al-Sahrawi area in Minya province south of Cairo were in burial grounds constructed some time between the 27th Dynasty and the Greco-Roman period.

The team found "a collection of sarcophagi of different shapes and sizes, as well as clay fragments," the statement quoted Ayman Ashmawy, head of the ministry's Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Sector, as saying.

Barbie dolls get turned into Egyptian mummies at Bolton Library

FIRST we had disco Barbie, then model Barbie .... now we have mummified Barbie.

The ancient Egyptian practice once used to bury the dead was put into practice using the popular children’s doll.

Barbie dolls were given a unique makeover on Saturday as part of a series of events at Bolton Library and Museum celebrating the forthcoming launch of its Egyptology gallery.

Ancient Egyptian Tomb Warnings Curses and Ghosts

With The Tomb: Ancient Egyptian Burial exhibition currently on display at the National Museum of Scotland, I wanted to take the opportunity to discuss the popular misconception that ancient Egyptian tombs all contain curses. This idea became widespread due to the sensationalist journalism that followed the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun in 1922. The death of Lord Carnarvon in the months after the opening of the tomb fit well with the idea of a long dead Pharaoh wishing for retribution and of course produced great headlines.

Merneptah Stele changed from Israel Stele to Victory Stele of Merneptah

.The General Manager of the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square Sabah Abdel Razik said on Monday that the description of Merneptah Stele was changed from Israel Stele to the Victory Stele of Merneptah. . . The stela represents the earliest textual reference to Israel and the only reference from ancient Egypt.

Mother of Egyptian archaeologists
Obituary: Tohfa Handoussa (1937-2017)

On 16 July this year, Tohfa Handoussa, often called the “mother of Egyptian archaeologists” and a distinguished emeritus professor of Egyptology at the Faculty of Archaeology at Cairo University, passed away after a long illness.

Handoussa was one of the most important pillars of the middle generation of the Egyptian School of Egyptology, which also included important figures such as Abdel-Halim Noureddin, Ali Radwan, Faiza Heikal, Gaballah Ali Gaballah, Sayed Tawfik, Mohamed Ibrahim Moursi and others.On 16 July this year, Tohfa Handoussa, often called the “mother of Egyptian archaeologists” and a distinguished emeritus professor of Egyptology at the Faculty of Archaeology at Cairo University, passed away after a long illness.

Handoussa was one of the most important pillars of the middle generation of the Egyptian School of Egyptology, which also included important figures such as Abdel-Halim Noureddin, Ali Radwan, Faiza Heikal, Gaballah Ali Gaballah, Sayed Tawfik, Mohamed Ibrahim Moursi and others.

Picture of the week

The god Djehuty returning his eye to Horus after the God Set damaged it. Louvre Museum.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Ancient Egypt August 14

The Latest Discoveries in Egyptology (May-July 2017)

Every few months, the Nile Scribes will bring you summaries of the latest ideas and discoveries in Egyptology, both from the field and the lab. We’ll introduce you to the newest archaeological finds or recently undusted manuscripts being rediscovered in museum collections, plus other theories stirring in the Egyptological Zeitgeist.

How Cleopatra’s Needle got to Central Park

It’s 70 feet tall, 220 tons and the city’s oldest artifact — but many New Yorkers don’t know it exists.

Cleopatra’s Needle, a 3,500-year-old obelisk from Ancient Egypt, survived a voyage to Central Park more than a century ago and has been a park treasure ever since.

Recording and rematerialising the Sarcophagus of Seti I and all the the tomb's scattered elements

The photogrammetric recording of the sarcophagus of Seti I in Sir John Soane’s Museum in London was carried out between the 14th and the 19th March 2016 by Pedro MirĂ³, Manuel Franquelo and Ferdinand Saumarez-Smith from the Factum Foundation for Digital Technology in Conservation. This initiative marks the first stage of the Theban Necropolis Preservation Initiative: a collaboration between the Ministry of Antiquities (Egypt), Factum Foundation for Digital Technology in Conservation (Spain), and the University of Basel (Switzerland), with contribution from Autodesk and Capturing Reality, and financial support by donation to the Factum Foundation.

The Great Pyramid of Giza is hiding mysterious chambers that could be about to reveal their secrets

Scientists prepare to search for 'recesses' lurking deep within this wonder of the ancient world.

Experts think they’re on the verge of solving a mystery hidden deep inside this awe-inspiring wonder of the ancient world.

Ancient Egyptian Pharaoh May Be the 1st Known 'Giant'

The supposed remains of Sa-Nakht, a pharaoh of ancient Egypt, may be the oldest known human giant, a new study finds.

Myths abound with stories of giants, from the frost and fire giants of Norse legends to the Titans who warred with the gods in ancient Greek mythology. However, giants are more than just myth; accelerated and excessive growth, a condition known as gigantism, can occur when the body generates too much growth hormone. This usually occurs because of a tumor on the pituitary gland of the brain.

Egyptologist to use 3D technology in documentation

Aliaa Ismail, 26, is the first Egyptian to work in the field of 3D scanning of Egyptian heritage at the tomb of Seti I in the Valley of the Kings in Luxor.

She holds two majors in Egyptology and Architectural Engineering from the American University in Cairo, and she graduated and started her career at the Factum Arte dedicated to digital mediation, both in the production of facsimiles and works of contemporary artists.

Ancient Egypt like you’ve never seen it before: 20 Rare Images of the Land of the Pharaohs

Here is your chance to go back in time with us and see Ancient Egypt like you’ve never imagined before.

The history of Ancient Egypt is one of the most extensive on planet Earth. From the beauties of the River Nile to the countless ancient temples and pyramids built across the Land of the Pharaohs, Ancient Egypt is definitely one of the most magical places on our planet.

The discovery of Nefertiti in Tell el-Amarna

“Really wonderful work. No use describing it, you have to see it!”

Between 1911 and 1914, excavations on behalf of the German Orient Society (Deutsche Orient-Gesellschaft - DOG) took place in the Egyptian city of Tell el-Amarna. They were directed by the German archaeologist and building researcher Ludwig Borchardt, since 1907 Director of the Imperial Institute for Egyptian Archaeology in Cairo. In the course of several campaigns, numerous objects dating to the Amarna period were discovered and documented in diaries and lists of finds (also in the form of sketches, aquarelles and photographies). The structure of the city of Amarna, particularly of the homes, was registered by Borchardt in great detail.

Pictures of the week

Detail from the Book of the Earth, from the burial chamber of the Tomb of Ramesses VI (KV9), Valley of the Kings. Sun disk flanked by divine figures and uraei, Hathor head and serpent emerging from the sun disk. New Kingdom, 20th Dynasty, ca. 1145-1137 BC. Thanks to the Egyptian Museum Facebook page.

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John White Alexander, an American portrait, figure, and decorative painter and illustrator dressed as an Egyptian mummy at the Autumn Fair in Onteora, New York, 1903. Photographer: C. O. Bickelmann [Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.]

Monday, August 7, 2017

Ancient Egypt August 7

Egypt takes stock of neglected antiquities
photo by REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih

CAIRO — On July 2, Gharib Sunbul, head of the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities' central administration for maintenance and restoration, announced that a massive inventory of 5,000 artifacts would soon be completed at Alexandria's seaside warehouses. He said that a team of specialists are studying, documenting and carefully repackaging the items as well as planning for any needed restoration.

The plan is part of the campaign announced by the ministry June 23 to document and protect the artifacts found in its archeological warehouses and to protect Egypt’s archaeological treasures against theft.

Atun Museum in Minya nears completion after six years' delay in construction work

Once completed, the museum will tell the story of Minya through history, including the rule of Pharaoh Akhenatun and his beloved wife Queen Nefertiti.

Engineers, archaeologists and builders are putting the finishing touches to the first hall, which will serve as a model for other diplay areas in the museum. In the next two weeks, the hall will be inspected by a project consultant to ensure it is up to standard.

Oriental Institute's Parnerships in Discovery video

This video highlights the OI’s mission of discovery, preservation, and the dissemination of knowledge through the lens of the OI's three projects in Egypt and global partnerships.

Five killed while illegally digging for antiquities in Egypt’s Sohag

Digging for artifacts without official authorization is illegal in Egypt. However, every year artifacts are illegally unearthed and smuggled abroad, often fetching high prices with dealers and collectors.

The deaths occurred in two separate incidents involving excavations beneath houses.

Archaeologists Announce Discovery Of A 3,700 Year-Old Pyramid In Egypt

Egyptian archaeologists have announced the discovery of a pyramid thought to be around 3,700 years old, dating back to ancient Egypt‘s 13th Dynasty.

The remains of the pyramid were discovered just north of King Sneferu’s famous bent pyramid in the Dahshur royal necropolis, located 40 kilometers (24 miles) south of Cairo, announced the head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Sector, Mahmoud Afifi, in a statement on Monday.

Find a lecture on Egyptology near you

This note from the Association for Students of Egyptology Facebook page: Marissa Lopez started a calendar with all worldwide Egyptology lectures on it…. This is of course an incredible effort; if there are any events you would like to see added, let them know!

Fit for a King: Tut's Camping Bed Was an Ancient Marvel

King Tutankhamun, the pharaoh who ruled Egypt more than 3,300 years ago, slept on the forerunner of our modern camping bed, according to a study presented at the latest international conference on the boy king in Cairo.

British archaeologist Howard Carter discovered the unique three-fold bed — made of lightweight hardwood — when he entered King Tut's treasure-packed tomb in 1922.

Tomb Robbing in Ancient Egypt

The tombs of the great kings and nobles of Egypt were built to safeguard the corpse and possessions of the deceased for eternity and yet, while many have endured for thousands of years, their contents often disappeared relatively quickly. Tomb robbing in ancient Egypt was recognized as a serious problem as early as the Early Dynastic Period (c. 3150 - c. 2613 BCE) in the construction of the pyramid complex of Djoser (c. 2670 BCE). The burial chamber was purposefully located, and the chambers and hallways of the tomb filled with debris, to prevent theft, but even so, the tomb was broken into and looted; even the king’s mummy was taken.

How Ancient Rome Viewed The Deaths Of Antony And Cleopatra

Beginning on July 31st of the year 30 BCE, the final battles were fought between Octavian and Mark Antony near the city of Alexandria in Egypt. The Battle of Alexandria would end with Antony's final defeat. In order to avoid being taken captive, Mark Antony and later Cleopatra would take their own lives.

Pictures of the week

Wrapped and labelled for safe passage to the afterlife: The mummy of Prince Amenemhat, who was likely the son of the 18th Dynasty King Amenhotep I (ca 1500 BC). Amenemhat’s small coffin was discovered in February 1919 in a tomb hidden amongst the cliffs south of Deir el-Bahri.
On his chest rests an openwork pectoral, carved from a thin piece of wood, depicting Amenhotep I smiting the enemies of Egypt. Amenemhat now rests in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Photo: Ambrose Lansing [Courtesy: Nile Magazine]
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Tourists in the Valley of the Kings 1898
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Friday, August 4, 2017

July Reads

Jane Austen at Home: A Biography by Lucy Worsley

Synopsis: Take a trip back to Jane Austen's world and the many places she lived as historian Lucy Worsley visits Austen's childhood home, her schools, her holiday accommodations, the houses--both grand and small--of the relations upon whom she was dependent, and the home she shared with her mother and sister towards the end of her life. In places like Steventon Parsonage, Godmersham Park, Chawton House and a small rented house in Winchester, Worsley discovers a Jane Austen very different from the one who famously lived a 'life without incident'.

My take: Jane Austen at Home is a must read for all Austen fans, particularly since this is the 200th anniversary of her death. If you're not a Jane Austen fan because you think all her novels are about finding a rich husband,  read this book and learn about the role of women in Georgian society; maybe you'll get a notion of why her characters were so revolutionary.

To be honest, I never delved deeply into Austen's life; I cruised along on the snippets I learned in English classes. All I had was my love of her words. And what a love it is: I still read at least one Austen novel a year. I'm up to about 10 read-throughs of some of them. So, this book seemed an obligatory read.

Speaking of English classes, OMG, was I asleep when they were talking about how the sea was a symbol for sexual pleasure in Austen? I mean, I know it is in general, but sex and Austen? So, Louisa Musgrove's fall from the sea wall was a warning about what flirtation leads to? And, well, I certainly get what it means for Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth to sail off to sea.  But, I also clearly remember an English friend of mine turning up her nose at American Jane Austen films and announcing "There is NO snogging in Austen." Apparently, she was wrong.

OK. That's out of my system. Now, back to do you really need to read this book? Yes, if  you're either a reader or a writer.

If you're a reader,  you'll come away with a richer understanding of the world in which Austen novels are set.

If  you're a writer, Jane's trials and tribulations of getting published will be familiar to you. (Hint: a form of self-publishing was the key.) Also, her work habits and how she processes her daily life into a novel are sure to be of interest.

One always hears about the family influence on Austen. As you read about her tortured/lovely interactions with her family and friends, you'll probably have a piece of paper where you keep track of real people versus characters. Mr. Knightly, check; Jane Bennet, check; Lady Catherine, check. You come away with a great appreciation for Austen's insight and ability to snark.

For me, the most interesting part was how Jane moved down in class circles as she grew older. (Think of Miss Bates in Emma.) Choosing not to marry (which Jane knowingly did several times) in Georgian England was bold, and  it pretty much put an end to any notion of comfortable, stress-free living as soon as your father died, unless you had inherited a lot of money, or as Emma Woodhouse says: a single woman, of good fortune, is always respectable, and may be as sensible and pleasant as any body else.  But without a good fortune, you were in trouble. The book certainly informs you of how "gentry" in Georgian England (and the Austen's were no exception) scrabbled and plotted to obtain and maintain a good fortune.

The Austen women's scrabbling for a place to call home is sobering, and it informs many of the characters that Austen wrote. As the author said many times, the goal of getting married in an Austen novel is not so much finding love and happily ever after-ing, but finding a home. Or as Charlotte Lucas said in Pride and Prejudice, I am not romantic, you know; I never was. I ask only a comfortable home; and considering Mr. Collins' character, connection, and situation in life, I am convinced that my chance of happiness with him is as fair as most people can boast on entering the marriage state.

After reading Jane Austen at home, I was once again putting her novels back on my to-be-read list, and I will look at them differently.

The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist

Synopsis: One day in early spring, Dorrit Weger is checked into the Second Reserve Bank Unit for biological material. She is promised a nicely furnished apartment inside the Unit, where she will make new friends, enjoy the state of the art recreation facilities, and live the few remaining days of her life in comfort with people who are just like her. Here, women over the age of fifty and men over sixty–single, childless, and without jobs in progressive industries–are sequestered for their final few years; they are considered outsiders. In the Unit they are expected to contribute themselves for drug and psychological testing, and ultimately donate their organs, little by little, until the final donation.

THE UNIT is a gripping exploration of a society in the throes of an experiment, in which the “dispensable” ones are convinced under gentle coercion of the importance of sacrificing for the “necessary” ones. Ninni Holmqvist has created a debut novel of humor, sorrow, and rage about love, the close bonds of friendship, and about a cynical, utilitarian way of thinking disguised as care.

My take: THE UNIT is one of the best books I've read this year!

Part Handmaid's Tale and part Never Let Me Go, it grabs you by the throat and never lets you go. It was depressing, yes; but also beautifully written. I found myself underlining passage after passage. Some of the most beautiful passages were written about Dorrit and her dog, and tears came to my eyes. The dark tale of loss, love, loss, and love opens the door to many questions, not the least of which was  "What is the value of a life?"

The writing and the plotting was top notch. I was pleasantly (and emotionally) surprised by the ending, which I always count as a plus. I had predicted another ending entirely. I gobbled up this novel in one sitting at the airport and on the plane, but it haunts me. I will probably read it again to enjoy the deliciousness of the prose. And to contemplate the meaning of life.

The Family by Marissa Kennerson

Synopsis: Just like any average seventeen-year-old, Twig loves her family. She has a caring mother and a controlling father. Her brothers and sisters are committed to her family’s prosperity…

All one hundred eighty-three of them.

Twig lives in the Family, a collective society located in the rain forest of Costa Rica. Family members coexist with values of complete openness and honesty, and they share a fear of contagious infection in the outside world.

Adam—their Father, prophet, and savior—announces that Twig will be his new bride, and she is overjoyed and honored. But when an injury forces her to leave the Family compound, Twig finds that the world outside is not as toxic as she was made to believe. And then she meets Leo, an American boy with a killer smile, and begins to question everything about her life within the Family and the cult to which she belongs.

But when it comes to Family, you don’t get a choice.

My take: The Family is a good serviceable read for vacation. If you've read any novels about cults, you know from the get-go where this novel will end, and there are very few surprises along the way. Nonetheless, it is good journey, and you won't be disappointed. Kennerson is a competent writer, and she gives Twig an interesting character arc. The ending, although predictable, left a few hanging threads that should have been snipped.

Ramses: The Battle of Kadesh by Christian Jacq

Synopsis: The powerful Hittites have declared war on Egypt, and Ramses must do the impossible: seize their impregnable fortress at Kadesh with his ragged army, even as his powerful bodyguard and right-hand man has been arrested, suspected of treason.

My take: The series is finally moving into a phase of Ramses's life about which we know something. I am no scholar when it comes to this battle, out of which the first known peace treaty in history emerged, but Jacq hits a stride here. The battle to-and-froing is fairly compelling, and (at least) it feels like it could have happened. I'm still a little annoyed by the evil brother sub-plot and the fact that the love scenes between Ramses and Nefertari have the emotional depth and heat of a snow pea. For me, the real take-away from these books is getting a feel for the character of Ramses.

Do Not Become Alarmed: A Novel by Maile Meloy

Synopsis: The sun is shining, the sea is blue, the children have disappeared.

When Liv and Nora decide to take their husbands and children on a holiday cruise, everyone is thrilled. The adults are lulled by the ship’s comfort and ease. The four children—ages six to eleven—love the nonstop buffet and their newfound independence. But when they all go ashore for an adventure in Central America, a series of minor misfortunes and miscalculations leads the families farther from the safety of the ship. One minute the children are there, and the next they’re gone.

The disintegration of the world the families knew—told from the perspectives of both the adults and the children—is both riveting and revealing. The parents, accustomed to security and control, turn on each other and blame themselves, while the seemingly helpless children discover resources they never knew they possessed.

Do Not Become Alarmed is a story about the protective force of innocence and the limits of parental power, and an insightful look at privileged illusions of safety. Celebrated for her spare and moving fiction, Maile Meloy has written a gripping novel about how quickly what we count on can fall away, and the way a crisis shifts our perceptions of what matters most.

My take: Right up front, I'll say I liked this book. It was both compelling and easy to read. I finished it in two nights.  I identified with the parental characters in the books and at various times with the different children. After reading some of the reviews, I came to the conclusion that I must be a privileged, first-world ninny to have that identification. So, be it. The book is still a good read.