Lynn's Reviews > Sipping from the Nile: My Exodus from Egypt

Sipping from the Nile by Jean Naggar
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's review
May 15, 12

bookshelves: autobiography, history-books, non-fiction
Read from May 11 to 15, 2012

Jean Naggar was an Italian Jewish national who was born and grew up in Colonial Egypt. Her family was fluent in Italian, French and English and used them interchangeably with each other depending on what they wanted to say or convey. Their servants were Yugoslav so they also learned phrases of Serbo-Croation to talk to them. Arabic was heard on the streets and the surrounding areas. The family was very wealthy and lived in a bubble where contact with the common people was very limited and not part of their world. They learned music, languages and math in a tutoring situation as befit their station in life. The life was charmed until 1952 when a revolution threatened territories under foreign occupation and finally a crisis in 1958 forced the family to flee. Arab nations were becoming more and more hostile to the creation of Israel and driving out Jewish families. Out of the bubble, in Italy, then Britain and the United States, Jean discovered that she was Jewish, Sephardic, and White. In the bubble, there was no need to be labeled or identified as something. The autobiography is told with family photos and descriptions about them. A photo is shown and the author describes them and includes more information. In the beginning, the method is interesting, even charming. There comes a point however when I realized the story will never get deeper or more interesting. I felt the emotion of annoyance not unlike a guest in a house where the hostess is showing me family photos but doesn't know how to stop and I am not sure how to leave. I learned something from this book and found the photos interesting but I fear the author is still in the bubble and would rather stay there. A life on the surface lacks emotion and depth. It also acknowledges less trouble and conflict. Probably the best way a colonial family can survive and reap the benefits as occupiers of a country.
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Reading Progress

16.0% "I began this book out of curiosity and am absorbed in it now."
19.0% "memior of an extremely wealthy family in early 20th century Cairo."
32.0% "Such wealth in colonialism and the people of Egypt are missing."

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