While I thoroughly enjoyed this book, it is not one that you can just fit in here and there. You definitely need good one or two-hour blocks to sit down and dive right in to it. Being a pretty large book, this is why it has taken me so long to get through it.
The story is told from the view of the two main characters through alternating chapters – Florence Nightingale and Gustave Flaubert.
While Nightingale and Flaubert did travel Egypt at the same time, in real life they never met. This book is Shomers tale of what if.
Flaubert, travelling with his companion Max, is journeying the Nile for work purposes. The crude talking pair, happy in their own company, make their way in less than pristine conditions stopping in at any brothels they can find along the way.
Further along the river, complete with her ladies maid, Nightingale has escaped the confines of her family home for an adventure holiday with close family friends.
Meeting by chance when Florence voices her disapproval at some of the mens actions, the pair form an unlikely friendship.
Bonding over the hidden daemons they both posses, they provided for each other what the other is lacking. Florence begins to develop a curiosity for scandalous acts that she never considered a part of her future and Gustave – to his distaste – starts to discover a more caring and sensitive side to himself.
On a stolen trip away from her chaperones, Flo finds herself in the roughest of Egypt. With intimacy ever building between the two, a kidnapped maid, bouts of sickness and a severe lack of water push the two companions dangerously close to each other.
After sharing an almost irreversible intimate night together, the pair struggle to imagine how their new friendship can survive outside the throws of the foreign land.
Let me know what you thought…