Sent abroad to Egypt in 1922 to recover from the typhoid that killed her mother, eleven-year-old Lucy becomes swept up in the feverish excitement surrounding the search for Tutankhamun's tomb. She forms an immediate bond with Frances, the daughter of an American archaeologist. Through this friendship, Lucy witnesses firsthand the intrigue, politics, and passions surrounding this quest. Their friendship sustains them throughout childhood, guides them through the class-ridden colonial society in which they grow up, and takes them into an adult life that promises fulfillment until it veers toward heartbreak.
Looking back on her past much later in life, Lucy tells a deeply moving story of love and loss, of mistakes made and incendiary secrets concealed. She reveals the circumstances that lie behind the most celebrated discovery ever made in the Valley of the Kings, a discovery clouded by deception, in which triumph swiftly turned to tragedy, a story that mirrors her own. As Lord Carnarvon and the archaeologist Howard Carter force the desert to yield its treasures, Lucy reveals the extremes to which people are driven by desire even when these extremes involve building a life around a lie."