91. Wrapped, by Jennifer Bradbury.
I really wanted to love this book. A regency era historical novel, with a bluestocking, Egyptian mummies, *and* spies? How could I not like that?
And it does start out promising. Near the beginning of her London Season, Agnes Wilkins attends an "unwrapping" party at the home of a wealthy neighbor with interests in Egyptology. As each guest is given a turn to "unwrap" part of the mummy to find the trinkets buried with the body, Agnes finds herself pocketing the trinket she uncovers, for no reason she can articulate. This act propels her into a new world, one filled with spies and secrets and handsome young men like Caedmon, who works at the British Museum, and, like Agnes, dreams of a life that's much bigger than the one he has.
I suppose one of my issues was that the Regency setting felt . . . off. While I would like to cheer for a bluestocking, Agnes just felt a little too progressive: even with the support of devoted parents, it seems unlikely to me that a 17 year would know as many languages as Agnes did; it also seemed unlikely that she would be so aware of the subtle critiques built into Jane Austen's novels. And while I liked that Agnes questioned some of the cultural politics involved in the artifact trade, so much of her behavior seemed out of character for a gently bred young lady. I'm all for progressive women; I just wish Agnes didn't feel quite so much like a modern girl placed in a historical setting.
Aside from that, the book was fun: the writing was solid, the pacing was good, and the love-interest well-done. The ending may have been a bit predictable, but the angle on the story did at least feel new.