By Enid ShomerSimon & Schuster, $16.00, 450 pages
In 1805, two historical figures, Florence Nightingale and Gustave Flaubert, traveled down the Nile at the same time. The Twelve Rooms of the Nile by Enid Shomer is a historical fiction reimagining of this trip suggesting what might have happened if these two had actually met. Despite these two very different personalities, Florence and Gustave both burn with ambition and form an unlikely bond.
The Twelve Rooms of the Nile is as languorously paced as the river that it describes. Some readers may find the book a bit too slow for their liking, but this gives ample opportunity for Shomer’s vivid descriptions. Shomer’s descriptions of the Nile explode with color, scents, sights, and she does a wonderful job of bringing to life the living conditions and experiences of the time period. She draws readers in to make them feel like they are floating down the river right beside the characters. While the characters are believable, some readers may find it difficult to set aside their knowledge of the historical people they are based on. This is a book for fans of historical fiction that don’t mind a bit of suspension of disbelief.
Reviewed by Whitney Smyth