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The Twelve Rooms of the Nile

3.13 of 5 stars 3.13  ·  rating details  ·  497 ratings  ·  117 reviews
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 heroine, before he had written a word of Madame Bovary, Florence Nightingale and Gustave Flaubert traveled up the Nile at the same time. In reality, they never met. But in
Hardcover, 464 pages
Published August 21st 2012 by Simon & Schuster (first published August 1st 2012)
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3.5 stars

Gustave Flaubert, a French author is known particularly for his 1857 novel, Madame Bovary. Florence Nightingale, The Lady with the Lamp, an English nurse is known primarily for her leading work in nursing during the Crimean War.

In The Twelve Rooms of the Nile, Enid Shomer writes a story, a re-imagining of a friendship and a blossoming romance between these two famous nineteenth century figures after meeting in Egypt on their separate tours. Although both Flaubert and Nightingale did bot
Blodeuedd Finland
This is not an easy book to review. There is a lot of talking and thinking within it. 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.
I read a few positive reviews of The Twelve Rooms of the Nile, so I when I saw it at the library I figured I'd step outside the YA box. While I enjoyed the rich historical atmosphere, I found the pacing a little slow and the characters mostly unlikeable.

I was immediately struck by how easily Shomer immerses us in the time period, 1850s Egypt through the eyes of two Europeans, Gustave Flaubert and Florence Nightingale. She gives us a lot of details, but at no time did I feel overwhelmed. We're in
Incredible! Who could have imagined that Florence Nightingale and Gustave Flaubert would be so good together? Apparently, Enid Shomer did just that, and her debut novel is thoroughly engaging, witty, philosophical, sensual and intellectual. From the bare coincidence that both Nightingale and Flaubert spent a summer sailing up and down the Nile in 1850—but on separate boats, with no indication that they ever met at any point—Shomer has written an epic but personal tale of the meeting of two exqui ...more
It is a little known fact that, long before either of them became famous, Gustave Flaubert and Florence Nightingale each toured Egypt at exactly the same time, following a nearly identical itinerary. History does not record them ever having met, but Enid Shomer's novel imagines what might have happened if they had.

Florence is a frustrated young woman, fiercely independent by nature but fettered by society's expectations and her mother's narrow views of what is suitable. She has avoided marriage,
A dream of a book. The Twelve Rooms of the Nile is poetic prose about two unique people in an exotic land. Reading it, I was transported to 19th century Egypt and felt as though I were with these two characters every step of the way. A beautiful, engrossing and satisfying read.
Linda Banche
The TWELVE ROOMS OF THE NILE by Enid Shomer is a sweeping novel of nineteenth century Victorian Egypt as we follow the fictional meeting of Florence Nightingale and Gustave Flaubert, a meeting that will set both on the course of their life’s work, as they travel up the Nile and back. Vivid characterizations, loads of historical detail and pictures painted with words give a strikingly accurate depiction of nineteenth century Egypt as well the two-faced morality of theVictorian world.

Florence Nigh
Cynthia Robertson

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
I got about halfway through, to the point where they began enjoying the Red Sea before I had to return it to the library in order to go away. It wasn't interesting enough to take it with me. On the other hand, the language in it about Egypt evokes the way one feels when sailing the Nile and stopping to see the various temples. The characters were well defined- women of past generations if at all educated, did feel the pull to achieve and not be insipid people who had to agree and faun on men and ...more
Jan 13, 2013 Kate added it
What a piece of crap. I can't believe this made NPR's list of best historical fiction of 2012. I was bored stiff for the whole first half of the book. It finally picked up but not enough to make up for it. I'd give 2/5 stars simply because the author does have potential and, as the book unfolds, the relationship between Flo and Gustave becomes touching quite unexpectedly.

The author is way too verbose and detail obsessed for me. I din't really give a crap about all the description of Egypt and wh
In 1849 Florence Nightingale, frustrated and suffocating at the life she must lead due to her class and gender travels together with friends and her maid, to Egypt to see the archeological excavations along the Nile. At the same time, Gustave Flaubert, frustrated too by his certainty that his first book is bad, travels on a similar journey with a friend ostensibly to record some of the findings. There is no record that they met on this journey, yet Enid Shomer has them meet, become friends and t ...more
Before she became a heroine of the Crimean War, and before he had written a word of Madame Bovary, Florence Nightingale and Gustave Flaubert each traveled to Egypt—and, reportedly, glimpsed each other on the Nile. Though the historical record suggests that they did not actually meet, in poet Enid Shomer’s rich and imaginative novel, The Twelve Rooms of the Nile, they do, igniting a passionate friendship that both inspired and repelled.

LOVED this fictional meeting of Flaubert & Flo Nightingale, or Rosignol... Ms. Shomer's 1st novel is a gem. Congratulations to her. The alternating stretches from each character' point of view are masterfully juxtaposed & Ms. Shomer leaves us delicious spaces between that we may traverse in our own imaginations. Best wishes to Ms. Shomer!
Love the depictions of Egypt, could have done without some of the sexuality, and probably would've been just as thrilled with no Flaubert at all. Why those two? Isn't Nightingale fascinating enough on her own? Also, the ending was too blasé and yet over the top; could've reigned in the poetic prose a little as it wasn't necessary and didn't add much.

This story moves along very slowly and I had a bit of a hard time paying attention. There are gorgeous descriptions of Egypt and the Nile and the overwhelming heat which is why I gave this 3 stars but I need a bit more action, drama or suspense in my books to really enjoy them.
This novel was just, to sum it up, a disappointment for me.

I'll start with what I did like first. I liked the idea of it, of Gustave Flaubert and Florence Nightingale and a grand tour of Egypt and what their encounters would be like. I LOVED the detail. It was so rich and vibrant. Enid Shomer's language was wonderful, making scenes in the middle of the desert transcend grains of sand and hot sun. The interactions between characters where detailed as well. The story swapped points of view between
I'm not going to reiterate the premise behind the book, but here's my pros and cons:

The reason I gave this book a 4 star "REALLY" liked it is because I thought the author captured the angst of an intelligent woman trapped by family and society, holding her back from what she wants to do. Women today often seem to take for granted what women like Florence Nightingale went through to pave a path for us to live full, rewarding lives as intelligent creatures who have something to contribute to socie
Julie L
Page 32 and that was it for me..not my type of book....
Just couldn't get interested in this book.
For upcoming Booklist review.
Rachael McDiarmid
This was an interesting idea - Florence Nightingale and Gustave Flaubert meeting while travelling around Egypt. It was a time when Egyptian locals did not care for their monuments, many were still surrounded by sand, and tourism to the country had yet to take off. I found all the descriptions of Egypt during this period rather fascinating, the culture, the food, the lifestyle. What I found even more interesting was how a well-to-do lady like Florence or Flo as she's often referred to as, travell ...more
This a faacinating historical novel of a trip that Florence Nightingale took through Egypt in the 1850s. While she really did tour Egypt and sail down the Nile, the book adds and encounter with Guastave Flaubert that did not happen though he was also touring this country at the time. The author uses an encounter between these two as a way to demonstrate the frustrations of Florence and other women at this time who were doomed to the domestic life no matter how much money, education, or privelege ...more
THE TWELVE ROOMS OF THE NILE refers to the Egyptian sun god Ra's passage through the twelve hours between sunset and dawn. Why did the author choose this title? Would you suggest abetter one?

I found this to be a good story about the fictional developing friendship between Gustave Flaubert and Florence Nightingale as they both traveled the Nile to experience the antiquities in 1850.

The plot was made interesting by the conflicts between FN and her maid Trout and those stemming from the natural el
Diane S.✨
3.5 I finished this a couple of days ago but I really=y needed to think before I wrote a review. I loved her writing, elegant and lush, especially when talking about the scenery, which was beautiful. Loved the history behind this, she actually used letters and journals from both of these well known people. Both are at loose ends and feel like they are not getting on with their lives the way they have envisioned them, Flaubert has written his first novel but his friends tell him it terrible and w ...more
Admittedly I’ve never read one, but Twelve Rooms of the Nile by Enid Shomer reminded me of fan fiction. She takes two people, Florence Nightingale and Gustave Flaubert, and creates a fictionalized account of their encounter in Egypt. There is a lot of thinking and a lot of talking and there are some moments of action, but overall, not much happens. I’m rating it a three out of five stars because while I enjoyed the story, I’m not sure there is any depth or anything special to make it a stand-out ...more
Enid Shomer's debut novel The Twelve Rooms of the Nile imagines what would have happened if Florence Nightingale and Gustave Flaubert had encountered each other while traveling in Egypt in 1850. While the future nurse and the future author of Madame Bovary never actually met, they did have similar itineraries and were indeed in Egypt at the same time. Well-researched with flawless prose, the book is steeped in detailed descriptions of everything from the pyramids to the details of a lady's toile ...more
Nazila Khalkhali
I read it. I didn't find it interesting. I'm wondering why the author likes to match two unmatched characters.Gustave Flaubert enjoyed to be with prostitutes and Florence Nightingale, was from a family with high moral values, and high moral values mean they expect the women don't pass some ethic lines. Honestly, it's not the novel I recommend. Even the images the author gives from Egypt seem they are between late 19th century and today and sometimes neither, fluent in the time and space.
Successful historical fiction transports readers into another place and time through compelling stories, illuminating those times with accurate depictions of people, mores, fashion, society, politics, living conditions, and behaviours. What Enid Shomer's The Twelve Rooms of the Nile adds to this formula are characters drawn so vividly, so tenderly, so intimately that readers can inhabit their very beings.

see complete review at for a complete review
Val Sanford
Gusatve Flaubert and Florence Nightengale collide in Luxor in 1848 bringing forth a friendship and re-imagined selves. Having visited the same sites: Abu Symbal, Dendere, Luxor, Cairo, Thebes, the wonderful Temple of Phille, this book was vividly real to me.

The self-discovery Nightengale experiences is, in part, the purpose of travel. We read their own words, journals, letters and published works, in this made-up encounter and both people are portrayed as the complex and confused revolutionarie
I picked up this book because I like stories about ancient Egypt. But this book was about far more than just Egypt, it's about a wonderful friendship that develops between a man and a woman, with just a hint of a deeper relationship brewing beneath the surface. I enjoyed the writing and that the author told the story from the perspective of both characters.
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Enid Shomer is an award-winning American poet and fiction writer. She is author of six poetry collections and two short story collections largely set in, influenced by, and life in the State of Florida.
More about Enid Shomer...
Tourist Season: Stories Stalking the Florida Panther Imaginary Men THIS CLOSE TO THE EARTH: Poems Black Drum

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“Ambition was a dull pain, like a continually broken heart.” 4 likes
“Flo hated how public an event affection inevitably became. Marrying in a church while scrutinized by dozens of people struck her as a barbaric custom.” 1 likes
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