BookBrowse Reviews Down the Nile by Rosemary Mahoney

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Down the Nile

Alone in a Fisherman's Skiff

By Rosemary Mahoney

Down the Nile
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  • Hardcover: Jul 2007,
    288 pages.
    Paperback: Sep 2008,
    304 pages.

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Book Reviewed by:
Diane La Rue

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A woman's solo journey down the Nile

Down the Nile: Alone in a Fisherman's Skiff records Rosemary Mahoney's solo journey rowing down the River Nile - a river that flows south to north, which intrigues her*. Mahoney's prose is lovely: "The more I learned about the Nile, the less forbidding it seemed. I had so often imagined rowing on the Nile that doing so had begun to feel less like a fantasy and more like a memory that only wanted its corresponding action rightfully exercised." Her descriptions of the scenery, topography and animals of Egypt paint vivid pictures in the reader's mind.

Rowing the Nile alone could be a daunting task for any foreigner, but more so for a woman. While the parts of the river she traverses (from Aswan to Qena) are benign, civil unrest and Egyptian attitudes to women make it challenging. Although westerners tend to think of ...

*Rosemary Mahoney was intrigued by the Nile because it flows south to north. The idea that rivers flow north to south is apparently a belief that many hold to be true (perhaps because north is at the 'top' of the map and therefore rivers must flow 'down' to the bottom), but it is a fallacy. The one constant about rivers is that they flow downhill along the path of least resistance, in doing so they can and do flow north, south, east and west. The Nile is one of the most famous north flowing rivers - a fact which apparently caused some discombobulation among the ancient middle eastern people when they spread from Mesopotamia (the land between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, which flow more or less South-East into the Persian Gulf) to the Nile region. Equally, ancient Egyptian writings show that the Egyptians were disturbed to discover rivers that flowed in the 'wrong' ...

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