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

by Enid Shomer

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132991,104 (3.53)5
Member:maureen61
Title:The Twelve Rooms of the Nile
Authors:Enid Shomer
Info:Simon & Schuster (2012), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 464 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***1/2
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The Twelve Rooms of the Nile by Enid Shomer (2012)

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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.

Conclusion:
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 |
No Rating....

I am not going to rate this because I did not finish reading... Not because I hated it, or believed it to be inane or anything of the like. I simply do not enjoy "Literature", eloquent, well written, or otherwise.

In 1850 both Florence Nightingale and Gustave Flaubert were in Egypt traveling down the Nile. There is nothing to suggest that they met or became friends... but this is where the book takes us and seems to be a very interesting premise.....

The writing style is evocative of the era and the story is rich with detail......

I'm sure many people will enjoy this book, I was not in need of the detailed descriptions....
  Auntie-Nanuuq | Jan 18, 2016 |

He crawled across the space between them and rested his head against her shoulder. Philae held them in its silted-up silence. Barely touching her for fear she’d collapse under the weight of an embrace or move away again, he encircled her with his arms. “I am waiting for the muse to visit me,” he managed to whisper, “just as you are waiting for God to speak to you again.” Were they not both self-made pariahs? He felt himself in complete sympathy with her, as if they had mingled their blood in the purity and innocence of childhood.

Part love story, part historical adventure, Enid Shomer’s The Twelve Rooms of the Nile is a fun jaunt back into the Egypt of the mid 1800’s, only just beginning to be appreciated and explored by adventurous Europeans. The tale follows Florence Nightingale, during her pre-Crimean War years, and French writer Gustave Flaubert, as they separately travel the Nile by boat. Both actually did take such trips during their lifetimes—and indeed, even at the same time—though they never actually met, as far as history records. But Ms. Shomer has imagined an alternate, enthralling world—where they do.

The Florence she imagines for us is one who hungers to do some great humanitarian work and leave her mark on the world, but is hampered by the conventions of her Victorian culture, a culture whose foremost watchdog is Florence’s own mother. Prim and proper, but longing to be free, Florence strains against the stays of her society, and briefly escapes the constrictures of her family with two doting friends who agree to chaperone the Egyptian excursion. Gustave, tormented by his companions’ dismissal of his first novel (and not yet the writer who will one day write Madame Bovary), is in Egypt to gather impressions, both in the literal sense, as he makes ‘squeezes’ of hieroglyphs, and in the artistic sense, as he records with his highly attuned, hedonistic perceptions, the pleasures and realities life in Egypt offers.

Shomer, a poet with several published collections, writes with unerring skill, capturing with vivid prose both the characters inner lives, and the exotic world they travel through. And unlike some poets who attempt fiction, she at no time wanders astray into self-indulgent passages that have no bearing on the story being told; while the language is evocative and at times transportive, it at all times serves the tale, making this novel a delight.

This writer’s strengths: Language, obviously, being a poet, but she also possesses a good imagination, and doesn’t back off from an almost brutal honesty when depicting her characters inner lives. There are some graphic sexual scenes in this novel—it is about Flaubert, after all, and he did die of (probably) complications of syphilis; or ‘the pox’ (which was something of a scourge among Europeans of the time). But they are written with such apparent honesty, that even the luridness of the brothel visits feels necessary.

Who will enjoy this book: The novel was clearly deeply researched, so history buffs of the time, or anyone curious about either of the main characters lives (and if you’re not, you will be, after reading this book), those who enjoy tales of Egypt, especially during the 1800s. Readers who enjoy deeply investigated flawed and believable characters. Readers who enjoy literary writing and a well-turned phrase combined with an adventurous tale.

The Twelve Rooms of the Nile is 445 pages. I did not note any editing errors. It was published in 2012 by Simon & Schustler.

I highly recommend it.
( )
  CynthiaRobertson | Apr 1, 2014 |
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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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