The Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters is one of the first series I can remember listening to on audio. It was on one of those long car trips with my family that I was introduced to resourceful Amelia, a female English Egyptologist from the late 1800s. The first book I listened to was actually Seeing a Large Cat, which falls smack dab in the middle of the series, and it’s only recently that I’ve gone back and listened to the series from the beginning.
Crocodile on the Sandbank introduces us to Amelia Peabody – an unmarried woman of thirty (and thus a spinster for her time) who has just inherited a large sum of money after her scholar father dies. Naturally, due to her inheritance, suitors come knocking on her door, but Amelia is much more interested in traveling and pursuing archaeology, in particular Egyptology (digging up tombs is a standby of each book). She has a knack for getting herself in trouble, mostly because she tends to seek it out. Amelia’s love and partner in crime is Radcliffe Emerson, whom we meet in this first book. The two exasperate each other on first sight, and their verbal sparring is one of the best features of the series.
If you listen to the audio, the book will not only introduce you to one of the best female protagonists out there, but also to the wonderful narration of Barbara Rosenblat. That woman is good. I’m not English, so my opinion may not necessarily be the most valid, but she fooled me into believing she was, in fact, English herself. (She is not – Barbara Rosenblat is American and her natural speaking voice is American.) She also has the rare talent of accurately impersonating a person of the opposite gender, which is very difficult to do. Emerson’s voice as portrayed by Barbara Rosenblat is so unique that it can be recognized just by its grunt – a noise Emerson is famous for and which cannot be reproduced effectively in print. And it’s not just me who thinks Rosenblat is spectacular – she’s won a ridiculous number of awards, including six Audies.
These books are perfect in audio form – they’re funny, full of adventure, and narrated in the first person by a smart and strong-willed woman who is way ahead of her time. Peters herself is an Egyptologist, which makes these books a fascinating blend of adventure, romance, and history. When I was in library school, I took the bus to and from class, and those bus rides could get looooong. I needed something to help pass the time, and I discovered that NetLibrary offered many of the earlier Amelia Peabodies. I was thrilled, and I loved listening to how Amelia met Emerson for the first time. This series is always one I recommend to people who are hesitant about audiobooks. The books are fun, clean enough to not embarrass you if you listen to them with your parents (as I did when I was younger), and spectacularly narrated.