The Twelve Rooms of the Nile

The Twelve Rooms of the Nile

3.09 (668 ratings by Goodreads)
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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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Product details

  • Hardback | 449 pages
  • 164 x 230 x 30mm | 780.17g
  • New York, NY, United States
  • English
  • 1451642962
  • 9781451642964
  • 1,962,062

Review quote

"Shomer's exquisite debut is an intellectual adventure through mid-nineteenth-century Egypt as experienced by two dissimilar people sitting on the cusp of greatness, though neither one knows that. Prim, earnest Florence Nightingale yearns to do good works, but her sex and disapproving family constrain her exuberant curiosity. Gustave Flaubert, a devoted cynic, loses himself in debauchery while seeking literary inspiration . . . a captivating story about close friendship and all the pleasures and complications of understanding another human being. The superb characterizations, poignant observations on the Egyptian religion, and depictions of the land's ethereal beauty--all perfectly interwoven--are rendered in memorable language that excites and enriches the mind."--Sarah Johnson "Booklist (starred review) "
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About Enid Shomer

Enid Shomer won the Iowa Fiction Prize for her first collection of stories and the Florida Gold Medal for her second. She is also the author of four books of poetry. Her work has appeared in "The New Yorker," "The Atlantic," "The Paris Review," and many other publications. She lives in Tampa, Florida.
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Rating details

668 ratings
3.09 out of 5 stars
5 11% (74)
4 27% (183)
3 34% (225)
2 16% (107)
1 12% (79)
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