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Letters from Egypt Review by Heidi Shaw

Simply Charlotte Mason
PO Box 892
Grayson, Georgia 30017-0892

SCM has published yet another treasure for the homeschool community. Letters from Egypt will make your ancient history studies come alive! I am so excited to be adding this gem to our studies this year.

Just like peeking into Great-grandma's trunk in the attic and finding all her old letters still there, Letters from Egypt will transport you to another time and place. Pieces of the author's personality mix in with the sights, sounds, and flavors of Egypt, taking us right along with her on her journeys.

Originally published in 1879, the letters are written by Mary Whately, an English woman living and working in Egypt during the mid 1800s. It appears that she was a teacher or headmistress in a large school and worked a lot with the poor of the population. The author provides insights into the habits, lifestyles, and customs of the Egyptian people--all in letter form as she writes to those back home in England. Very warm and conversational, the letters have many references to Biblical Egypt and how it compares to the Egyptian culture she is living in.

I found particularly fascinating the discussion of mothers who had lost children early in life and the struggles and bizarre rituals they engaged in to try to keep a child alive. Comparing this to the confidence we have in Jesus that our children are loved and covered, Mrs. Whately explains how she tried to introduce her Egyptian friends to the living God. This book is indeed a treasure. There are chapters on rivers, gardens, people and what they ate, superstitions, lifestyles, and so much more. There are no photos or diagrams, and really none are needed. The descriptions are so vivid and clear and the letters so entrancing that your imagination is all you need to take you there.

I gained a better understanding of certain Bible verses when I learned about the culture of the area, and I found myself wanting to read just one more chapter. According to Charlotte Mason, that is the mark of a real living book. Combine Letters from Egypt with SCM's other treasure, Boy of the Pyramids, and Sonya's wonderful study guide Genesis through Deuteronomy and Ancient Egypt, and you have a complete and extremely satisfying unit on the great land of Egypt.

Thank you, Sonya, for taking the time to search for and republish these lost treasures. We are all better for them, and I can't wait to see what you come up with next! This book belongs on all family bookshelves and will likely hold a place in your hearts as well!

Product review by Heidi Shaw, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, July 2009