When I grew up, one of my favorite books in the lending library was Mara, Daughter of the Nile. I don't know how many times I read this book, because I loved the story so much. But then one day, the book disappeared. Probably some lend it and never returned it.
The years went by and I never saw the book again. In those days, it was nearly impossible to get English books in Belgium. My local bookseller also could not help me.
I had nearly forgotten about Mara, when the internet came in the early 1990's. And then I discovered Amazon. Did you know, they had the book for sale! I remember I had to pay rather a lot to get it (it had to be imported from the States) but right now I have my own copy of this book I loved so much.
Mara is a young slave girl. She works for a master who doesn't care much about his slaves. Being clever, she has hopes of finding a new life soon. When her mistress sends her to the market to buy some items, she steals some fruit out of hunger. The shopkeeper doesn't notice it, but someone else does.
This mysterious man is a spy for Queen Hatshepsut. He needs someone to get close to the princess who is to marry Prince Thutmosis, who is the heir to thone. Some nobles want him to be Pharao instead of Hatshepsut and so he needs to be spied on.
Mara agrees to become a spy, because she is promised freedom afterwards. But soon after her meeting with Nahere, she meets young Sheftu, who claims to be a simple laborer. She knows better. Also he wants her to work for him.
From then on, Mara needs to be very careful balancing what she says to each master. It doesn't help when she falls in love with Sheftu, even knowing he doesn't trust her. The only one who believes in her sincerity is Captain Nekonkh, who ferries them across the Nile.
But this is a story with a happy ending - just as I love it. In the end, everything come to right and Mara is at last a free woman - and a loved one.