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. - (Baker & Taylor)
Imagines shared encounters between Florence Nightingale and Gustave Flaubert before their famous achievements, in a dramatic account inspired by their 1850 journey up the Nile during which they overcame considerable differences to forge a bond of intelligence, humor and passion. 35,000 first printing. - (Baker & Taylor)
A captivating debut that imagines a passionate friendship between Florence Nightingale and Gustave Flaubert, when they were young and exploring the Nile in 1850.
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. - (Simon and Schuster)
*Starred Review* 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 gender and disapproving family constrain her exuberant curiosity. Gustave Flaubert, a devoted cynic, loses himself in debauchery while seeking literary inspiration. Both traveled up the Nile in 1850, although they probably never met in real life. From this grain of historical plausibility emerges a captivating story about close friendship and all the pleasures and complications of understanding another human being. As their parties follow a similar route, from the temples at Abu Simbel to Philae and other sites, they develop a tender bond, and they even take a daring overland trek together (with chaperones, of course). Their encounters with ancient monuments and the unfamiliar culture enhance their psychological journeys. Flo's awkward relationship with her unadventurous maid, as significant as hers with Gustave, authentically shows the limitations of her privileged Victorian background. 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. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.