The story of a British Egyptologist who is driven to murder by his wife's affair with an Egyptian man.
gone wrong, and he had not thought it necessary to pay up her losses. She moved from her house in Park Lane to a flat in Victoria Street, then to a little house in Kensington. Then she gave that up, and took a small place in the country, and motored up and down, to and from town. Then she got sick of that, and went to live in a London hotel. She sold her yacht. She sold a quantity of diamonds.
And people continued to say, "Mrs. Chepstow--oh, she must be well over fifty."
Undoubtedly she was face to face with a very bad period. With every month that passed, loneliness stared at her more fixedly, looked at her in the eyes till she began to feel almost dazed, almost hypnotized. A dulness crept over her.
And then, one morning of June, Doctor Meyer Isaacson sat sipping his coffee and looking at her name, written against the time, five-thirty, in his book of consultations.
Doctor Meyer Isaacson did not know Mrs. Chepstow personall
I agree with the other reviews, but only give 3 stars because I felt sullied when I finished reading this book.
Great and consistent character descriptions, as well as picturesque surroundings would have made an excellent book, were it not for the missing story. It doesn't suffice to stop writing when the book is large enough.
What stands out about this book is the atmosphere -- Egypt in the late 19th to early 20th century is practically a character in itself. Ruby ("Bella Donna") is a scheming woman who wants to do away with her well-to-do, if rather fatuous husband to be with her Egyptian lover. The reader can practically feel the heat of the desert and the wind off the Nile while reading this book.
Robert Smythe Hichens was an immensely popular author of his time who is largely forgotten now. It's time for a Hichens revival! I am reading "The Garden of Allah" next.
This novel is about an evil, immoral, greedy, vain woman, the Bella Donna of the title, who is past her prime in looks, and ostracized by London society. In London she meets and marries a young English heir to a Lordship for the sole purpose of gaining riches and societal stature - she does not love him, although he is totally mesmerized and infatuated with her and blind to her character failings. On their honeymoon shipboard voyage to Egypt where he lives and works as an Egyptologist, they meet a wealthy Egyptian businessman with whom she forms an immediate attraction, and whom she pursues later in the story. Her husband fails to inherit the Lordship and related estates - at this point she decides to slowly poison him with lead in his food over several months. Her goal being to get rid of him and become the Egyptian's lover. The author excels in creating most vivid pictures of Egypt's customs, natives, music, landscapes, and Egyptian relics/pyramids based on his personal travels to Egypt in his life time. The descriptions of the characters' thoughts and motivations are superb. I thought the book was rather long but riveting. Does Bella Donna succeed with her nefarious plans? Read the book to find out!