Off the Shelf…The Twelve Rooms of the Nile


I have been obsessed with Florence Nightingale since I was about 8 years old .  I can still remember a book I had about her that had an illustration of Florence and her sister Parthenope in matching outfits. I remember, vividly, the story of her singular calling to nursing with it’s accompanying deprivations and hardships in Scutari, the hospital in the Crimea that Florence transformed. It was there that the phrase “the lady with the lamp” was used for the first time.

But before all that, it is known that Florence took a trip to Egypt with her friends the Bracebridges. It is known that at the same time Gustave Flaubert, the author of Madame Bovary, also traveled down the Nile.  This book fictionalizes their journey/s together and apart and I have to say it was slow going in the beginning for me for this book. I had to really stay with it. The last two thirds are great, but it takes perseverance to get to the surprising kidnapping and watching Gustave and his Rossignol ( Florence’s nickname) walk up to the edge of a cliff of romance and then back away from it. Florence because of her belief that God was calling her for service and Gustave because of his, ahem, venereal disease. 

A solid 3 out of 5 stars, get it from the library though.

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