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Reading Group Guide for Nefertiti: A Novel
Nefertiti brings a fascinating chapter of Egyptian history to life. This reader’s guide is intended as a starting point for your discussion of this captivating story of two sisters, one of whom is destined to rule Egypt.
- Thousands of years after the Pharaoh’s ruled Egypt; this ancient civilization continues to fascinate the world. Were you drawn to Nefertiti by an interest in Egyptology? What aspects of Egyptian life are of interest to you?
- History remembers Nefertiti as a great beauty. What other aspects of her personality are highlighted in Nefertiti? How does she use her stunning good looks to her advantage? How do they hurt her? Have you ever known a woman like Nefertiti? Overall, is this a positive portrayal of her as a Queen? As a sister?
- Is Mutnodjmet jealous of her sister? Is Nefertiti jealous of Mutny? How are the sisters different? What makes two people who are raised together turn out so differently? What do they have in common?
- Nefertiti knows she must convince Amunhotep that she is more than his mother’s choice of bride. How does she do it? How does Kiya attempt to keep him? How do their powerful fathers make the rivalry between these two women worse?
- How are Nefertiti and Kiya alike? What is the nature of the Pharaoh’s relationship with each? If you put his ambitions aside, which of them do you think Amunhotep loved more? Why does Nefertiti try so hard to outshine Kiya at every turn? Are her reasons personal or political?
- What is your impression of Amunhotep? Do you think he was responsible for the death of his older brother? His father? Is he a tragic figure in Nefertiti or a villain?
- General Nakhtmin is taken by Mutnodjmet from their first meeting while she pretends to be uninterested in him. Why? What is the attraction between them? Why does Mutny deny it? What finally convinces her to admit her love for him?
- Do you think Nefertiti’s father, Vizier Ay, was a wise man or was he a slave to his ambitions just as his daughter was? Do you think he asks for an unfair level of loyalty from Mutnodjmet? Does she disappoint him?
- When the Elder dies Amunhotep becomes Pharaoh of both Upper and Lower Egypt, meaning he is free to do as he wishes. Nefertiti is entitled to the dowager queen’s crown but doesn’t take it. What does she do instead? Why doesn’t Nefertiti demand this symbol of all she has worked to attain?
- Why do Nefertiti and Amunhotep oppose Mutnodjmet’s marriage to the general? When Mutny lost her baby, did you think Nefertiti was to blame? How would a child of Nakhtmim and Mutnodjmet be a threat to Pharaoh?
- What effect does the intrigue and politics and positioning of court life have on Nefertiti and Mutnodjmet’s relationship? What makes the sister’s close? Would you say they are bound by love or obligation? Why does Nefertiti want to keep Mutny so close?
- Unwilling to call on the army, Amunhotep makes a treaty with the Hittites. What is the result of this treaty? Why is Amunhotep so afraid of the army?
- Desperate for a son, Nefertiti asks Mutnodjmet to take her to visit a shrine to Tawaret, the hippo goddess of birth. What does the fact that Neferetiti calls on the old gods in times of trouble say about her belief in Aten? Why does she ask her sister to pray for her? Considering how powerful the Egyptians considered their gods, do you think Nefertiti had any concerns about denying the gods to advance herself and her family?
- Why does Nefertiti banish Mutnodjmet?
- What does Mutnodjmet learn about herself when Ipu marries and takes a long journey away? How does this help her resolve any anger towards Nefertiti?
- Nefertiti tells Pharaoh that she dreamed the scheming Panahesi would be High Priest of Aten to get him out of her own father’s way. On page 386, Panahesi tries to use the same ruse to assure his grandson the throne. Is it a success?
- How does declaring Nefertiti co-regent change Amunhotep’s position? What does this mean for Nefertiti? For her daughters and family? Is this the ultimate victory it appears to be?
- When the plague comes to Amarna (page 404) Mutnodjmet decides to stay instead of leaving for the safety of Thebes. Why? What would you have done in her position?
- What happens to Amunhotep? Do you think he deserved this fate? Does Nefertiti deserve what happens to her?