Unwisely's Reviews > To the Heart of the Nile: Lady Florence Baker and the Exploration of Central Africa

To the Heart of the Nile by Pat Shipman
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's review
Apr 29, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: 2012, historical, non-fiction, travelogue, biography, africa
Read in April, 2012 , read count: 1

First off, the subject matter was fascinating - Florence and Sam Baker had amazing lives. Florence started as a harem slave after trouble in Hungary (which I went and looked up on Wikipedia,) The attendant description of the harem as being much like a convent school was probably as surprising to me as it was to Sam Baker, although I have no doubt that it was apt. Their exploration of Central Africa was a fascinating story. And then there's the whole assimilation ito English society, which was yet another interesting bit.

There was so much strange and wonderful history in here - the Mahdi, which I only know from the Flashman book about it (which I now can't identify, hrmm. Am I now imagining Flashman places where even
George MacDonald Fraser didn't put him?), the touring Dutch ladies who popped up, etc.

It's also a reminder that while most of the European colonial undertakings may have been disruptive and disastrous, the English determination to wipe out slavery did have some positive results.

The depictions of the heat and misery of African travel were enough to recall me to my own (much less extreme) time in Africa, and allowed me to imagine scenes fairly clearly; but I note that I felt like some of the prose (in the relationship parts) was a little overbearingly florid. Maybe Victorian ladies talked like that, but my cynical modern self found it a little off-putting.

Overall an engaging and interesting look at a woman whose life was much more interesting than most fiction.

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02/18 marked as: read

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message 1: by Ruth (new)

Ruth very helpful

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