A widely published fiction writer and poetry, Enid Shomer is the author of seven books. Her work has been collected in more than fifty anthologies and textbooks, including POETRY: A HarperCollins Pocket Anthology, Best American Poetry, and New Stories from the South: The Year’s Best.
Shomer's new novel is The Twelve Rooms of the Nile.
From her Q & A with Lauren Bufferd:
With a novel like this, you know there was a historical fact that provided the initial spark to your imagination. What was it?Visit Enid Shomer's website and Facebook page.
The initial spark was learning that Flaubert and Nightingale traveled the Nile at the same time. I’m not talking about approximately the same time. They were towed from Cairo to the navigable part of the river through the Mahmoudieh Canal on the same boat. That day, Flaubert wrote a description in his journal of a woman in a “hideous green eyeshade,” and we know that Nightingale had such a contraption that she wore attached to her bonnet. Their itineraries throughout their Nile journeys were almost identical. It’s kind of a miracle that they didn’t meet!
Did you know a lot about Florence Nightingale and Flaubert before you started the novel? Do you think readers need to know about them before they read the novel?
I did not know a lot. My sense of Nightingale at the outset was based on Lytton Strachey’s book Eminent Victorians, which depicts Nightingale as a shrewish and eccentric control freak. (He claims she actually worked one of her friends to death.) The more I read about and by her, the more I came to reject this depiction. She was, for one thing, blessed with a fabulous wit, a virtue Strachey ignored completely. Other early biographers painted her in saintly sepia tones. I set out to find out who the real Nightingale was.
I knew that Flaubert was...[read on]
The Page 69 Test: The Twelve Rooms of the Nile.
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