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The Twelve Rooms of the Nile by Enid Shomer

The Twelve Rooms of the Nile (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Enid Shomer

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1421184,396 (3.58)5
Title:The Twelve Rooms of the Nile
Authors:Enid Shomer
Info:Simon & Schuster (2012), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 464 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Twelve Rooms of the Nile by Enid Shomer (2012)


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Beautiful writing but I had trouble with the plot. The individual voices of Nightingale and Flaubert were fine but whenever they were together, I wasn't convinced. I felt like the author was grasping for something she could never quite capture. ( )
  laurenbufferd | Nov 14, 2016 |
Florence Nightengale and Gustave Flaubert were the exact opposites: she a prim and proper upper class English woman and he a French man obsessed with prostitutes. As was common for the time in the 1800's, both found themselves cruising down the Nile River to explore Egypt's antiquities. She was chaperoned by an older couple and a personal maid, Trout. He was accompanying a photographer friend. They happened on accident to meet and a strange relationship developed.

Florence has never met anyone like Gustave and he has never met anyone as naive as Florence who at the same time is chafing under the strict cultural rules of the time. Having turned down a suitor, Florence does not want to be married, fearing that she would lose all independence if she did. She is brilliant and has a great desire to be useful in the world, unlike the rest of her family. Flaubert wants to write, but is frustrated with subject matter having written one very unsuccessful novel. Added to this mixture is Trout, her maid. Trout does not want to be in Egypt, does not understand Florence, and frustrates Florence who thinks of Trout as only "dull." The trip down the Nile and then overland through the Sahara Desert on camels allows each person to see the other in a totally different light.

The kidnapping of Trout by a group of Bedouins is a bit of a stretch, but adds to the story a sense of mystery when it causes Florence to read Trout's diary. Although the two as maid and lady are physically close, they know very little of each other.

I loved this book which actually made me laugh out loud at times. The description of the anxiety of Florence and the antics of Gustave are so totally believable. There are passages that are almost embarrassingly raw and border on weirdness, but it is not gratuitous; they are essential in the understanding of a man such as Flaubert. Great read. ( )
  maryreinert | Jun 6, 2016 |
This is not an easy book to review. There is a lot of talking, thinking within it. Just living life. A flow of words, excellent writing and just a look into the souls of two famous individuals.

Florence Nightingale and Gustave Flaubert did travel the Nile at the same time, but no they did not meet. This is a what if book, what if they had met. Become friends and what else.

Two intelligent people who crave more meet, become friends and confidantes. Flaubert wants to write a novel, but is having problems with it. He does not want to marry and he loves his prostitutes.

Florence wants something more from life. Not the drudgery of marriage, being shackled and not being able to do more. What that more is she does not yet know. She wants to find her calling, the calling God has promised her. Their friendship is raw somehow, they share, they talk. But they also wish and that is not the path they should take.

What to say really. Shomer has a way with words, even if not much happen, and even when things to happen. Well things just are. There is something sobering over this novel.

They travel Egypt, together, apart. And maybe in the end they find their calling.

It's not a book you race through, you take your time, and wonder. I did like her style. ( )
  blodeuedd | Mar 2, 2016 |
Wonderful writing, but I grew rather bored. ( )
  Judy_Ryfinski | Jan 20, 2016 |
Wonderful writing, but I grew rather bored. ( )
  Judy_Ryfinski | Jan 20, 2016 |
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Book description
Before she became the nineteenth century’s greatest heroine, before he had written a word of Madame Bovary, Florence Nightingale and Gustave Flaubert traveled down the Nile at the same time. In the imaginative leap taken by award-winning writer Enid Shomer’s The Twelve Rooms of the Nile, the two ignite a passionate friendship marked by intelligence, humor, and a ravishing tenderness that will alter both their destinies.

In 1850, Florence, daughter of a prominent English family, sets sail on the Nile chaperoned by longtime family friends and her maid, Trout. To her family’s chagrin—and in spite of her wealth, charm, and beauty—she is, at twenty-nine and of her own volition, well on her way to spinsterhood. Meanwhile, Gustave and his good friend Maxime Du Camp embark on an expedition to document the then largely unexplored monuments of ancient Egypt. Traumatized by the deaths of his father and sister, and plagued by mysterious seizures, Flaubert has dropped out of law school and writ-ten his first novel, an effort promptly deemed unpublishable by his closest friends. At twenty-eight, he is an unproven writer with a failing body.

Florence is a woman with radical ideas about society and God, naive in the ways of men. Gustave is a notorious womanizer and patron of innumerable prostitutes. But both burn with unfulfilled ambition, and in the deft hands of Shomer, whose writing The New York Times Book Review has praised as “beautifully cadenced, and surprising in its imaginative reach,” the unlikely soul mates come together to share their darkest torments and most fervent hopes. Brimming with adventure and the sparkling sensibilities of the two travelers, this mesmerizing novel offers a luminous combination of gorgeous prose and wild imagination, all of it colored by the opulent tapestry of mid-nineteenth-century Egypt.
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A tale inspired by their 1850 journey up the Nile imagines shared encounters between Florence Nightingale and Gustave Flaubert, during which they overcame considerable differences to forge a bond of intelligence, humor, and passion.

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