Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Six best historical novels of 2012

Mary Sharratt lives in Lancashire, England. Her historical novels include Illuminations: A Novel of Hildegard von Bingen.

She named six of the best historical novels of the year for NPR, including:
The Twelve Rooms Of The Nile
by Enid Shomer

Florence Nightingale and Gustave Flaubert both toured Egypt in 1850. Although there is no historical record of their meeting, they become unlikely soul mates in Enid Shomer's tender and marvelously imagined debut novel. As the book opens, both Nightingale and Flaubert are in their late 20s and consider themselves failures. Flaubert's friends have advised him to burn his most recent attempt at a novel. Nightingale longs to serve the world but doesn't know how and fears disgracing her family. Flaubert is debauched, a connoisseur of prostitutes, while Nightingale is sexually ignorant. Yet their ambition and their resolute singlehood draw them together. Flaubert sees a deep melancholy in Nightingale that he longs to comfort. The titular 12 rooms of the Nile refer to the epic underworld journey of the sun god Ra, who dies at dusk and must travel down an infernal river divided into 12 rooms, one for each hour of the night, before he rises again at dawn. Flaubert is Nightingale's guide as she braves her own searing passage through the darkness of her confusion and despair. Her old self dies and a new self rises, one that will triumph as the future "Lady with the Lamp" and founder of modern nursing.
Read about the other books on the list.

The Page 69 Test: The Twelve Rooms of the Nile.

Writers Read: Enid Shomer.

My Book, The Movie: The Twelve Rooms of the Nile.

--Marshal Zeringue