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Relax With Phoebe In Miriam's Roof Garden

Gardens in the ancient world had special meaning, function, and design. Sometimes it was a place to rest and relax, other times a place for growing and cultivating particular plants. In The Deadliest Lie, Miriam explains that townhouses like hers have their kitchen, public rooms, and the family’s private suites on the first floor, the domestic servants’ quarters on the second, and an Egyptian-style roof garden on the third:

Phoebe comes here every Shabbat to lunch with me under the canopy of our third-floor, Egyptian-style roof garden, years back our favorite place to enjoy a summer breakfast of dates, goat cheese, and muffins flavored with coriander seeds. Bursting with news, her eyes vivid with excitement, she never fails to entertain me with rumors of Alexandria’s famous and infamous. Often thrilling, even farfetched, sometimes tragic, but never boring, her stories may be embellished—she does have a flair for theatrics—but time and again, their substance has proved to be reliable. And so, if I didn’t know better, I’d think she spends her time eavesdropping outside the city’s soup kitchens, whorehouses, and palace gates.

In the center of the garden pictured here is a pond surrounded by sycamore fig trees with red fruit growing from the trunks and branches. The pond is lined with copper and could have been filled with water. Facing the garden is a porch. Two rows of columns support the roof made of palm trunks split into halves. The rear columns have capitals in the form of papyrus stalks bound together, the capitals of the front columns imitate bundles of lotus. Rainfall is rare in Alexandria, but such an eventuality is provided for in three projecting spouts.

You’ll have many chances to eavesdrop on Miriam and Phoebe in the roof garden as they scheme to trap murderers and thieves. To join them, just click here for The Deadliest Lie, The Deadliest Hate, or The Deadliest Sport.


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