I want my mummy!
😀 😀 😀 🙂
Our narrator, barrister Malcolm Ross, is sent a message by the girl he’s already well on the way to falling in love with, Margaret Trelawny, begging him to come to her aid. Her father has been attacked and seriously injured. Malcolm rushes to her side, as do the doctor and the police. Abel Trelawny’s physical injuries are severe but not life-threatening, but he is in a strange comatose condition. He has, oddly, left instructions on what must be done in just such an eventuality. He must not be removed from his room, which is full of Egyptian treasures he has “collected” from tombs, including several sarcophagi. And two people must watch over him each night. So Malcolm offers to stay at the house, and helps with the watching while carrying on his wooing. Slowly he and Margaret learn that her father has been studying one mummy in particular, Queen Tera, and believes that she had magical skills. He believes that she intends to come back from the dead, and Trelawny intends to help her…
This would have made a great short story or novella, but at full-novel length it’s incredibly over-stretched and repetitive. It’s well written, of course, and the narration from Simon Vance is excellent – it may in fact have been the only thing that got me through all the repetition. There are parts that are very good, like the flashback to when Trelawny and his associate stole – sorry, I mean “collected” – the contents of Tera’s tomb, including Tera herself! Then there are parts where Malcolm tells us for the umpteenth time all about how sweet his Margaret is, to the point where I was about ready to put an Egyptian curse on both of them myself.
However my desire to know what would happen when Trelawny carried out his experiment held my interest throughout. Who doesn’t love a resurrected mummy?? But what an anti-climax! After eight hours of listening, the experiment is packed into the last quarter of an hour, and the actual climax takes about two minutes! And I don’t mean to quibble, but the happy ending seemed wildly inappropriate to the big build-up! I had already learned from another review that the story apparently had two endings, so after I’d finished I did a bit of checking. It turns out the original ending from 1903 was far from happy – in fact, it was so bleak the publisher refused to reissue the book in 1912 unless Stoker altered it. So he did, and now the happy ending is the one most commonly used. I found a copy of the original online, and while it certainly suits the tone better and is more Stoker-ish, it’s just as rushed and tacked on at the last moment as the later ending. I seem to remember complaining about the abrupt way Dracula finishes too, so maybe it was a deliberate stylistic choice of Stoker’s to end stories this way, but it felt like an unsatisfactory pay-off after a lengthy (though mostly enjoyable) listen.
(The porpy did a bit of research during the boring bits, and
discovered that even the ancient Egyptians loved porpies!)
PS Sorry I’m falling behind with answering comments and reading posts. The Australian Open has started which means I have to become even more nocturnal than I usually am, which throws out what I optimistically refer to as ‘my schedule’. I’ll catch up when the virtual jet lag wears off! Blame these men…
Meantime, good morning and good night!