The Book of Seven Delights
The repressed Englishwoman traveling abroad in the nineteenth century is given another layer in this tale—this time she’s a librarian! Despite her famous scholar father, Abigail Merchant was relegated to the basement of the British Museum, where she was put to work unpacking acquisitions. There she discovers papers which suggest that the lost library of Alexandria has not been destroyed but is in fact hidden in Marrakech. Being a good librarian, she researches all that is needed for the female traveler, which of course omits all that is actually useful. Fate contrives that Apollo Smith, an eye patch-wearing Englishman, a deserter from the French Foreign Legion, be Abigail’s guide to Marrakech, and along the way, their lives will be threatened by dastardly Legionnaires and outlaws, they will quarrel repeatedly, and of course they will fall in love.
Krahn has followed a formula, to be sure, but it works. Abigail and Apollo have enough self-awareness not to resist each other past the point of disbelief. Supporting characters seem to come straight from Casablanca’s “usual suspects,” but they give the tale the flavor of long-ago Saturday morning serials. I rooted wholeheartedly both for Abigail and Apollo to find the lost library and each other.