DOWN THE NILE: ALONE IN A FISHERMAN'S SKIFF
Rosemary Mahoney was determined to take a solo trip down the Egyptian Nile in a small boat, even though civil unrest and vexing local traditions conspired to create obstacles every step of the way. Starting off in the south, she gained the unlikely sympathy and respect of a Muslim sailor, who provided her with both a seven-foot skiff and a window into the culturally and materially impoverished lives of rural Egyptians.
Egyptian women don't row on the Nile, and tourists aren't allowed to for safety's sake. Mahoney endures extreme heat during the day, and a terror of crocodiles while alone in her boat at night. Whether she's confronting deeply held beliefs about non-Muslim women, finding connections to past chroniclers of the Nile, or coming to the dramatic realization that fear can engender unwarranted violence, Rosemary Mahoney's informed curiosity about the world, her glorious prose, and her wit never fail to captivate.
Down the Nile was ranked #4 on Entertainment Weekly’s list of the top ten non-fiction books of 2007, was one of 100 notable books of 2007 chosen by the editors of The New York Times Book Review, and was a best book of the year in both Publisher’s Weekly, and The Christian Science Monitor.
The New York Times Book Review: “Gorgeously vivid prose . . . Mahoney brilliantly juxtaposes [her account] with the diary entries of two Victorian travelers [Gustave Flaubert and Florence Nightingale] . . . This intriguing book encompases far more than Mahoney’s hours on the Nile and a delicious recounting of the river’s history . . . the author has a gift for revealing apparently unremarkable moments in such a way as to make them utterly engrossing. . . with her sinuous and richly textured writing and her eye for vivid and startling moments.” -- Lisa Fugard
Conde Nast Traveller: “Down the Nile; Alone in a Fisherman’s Skiff is utterly frank; sometimes rather scary; often extremely witty, brave, and revealing in its generalizations; and above all essentially kind.” -- Jan Morris submitting Down the Nile as one of the greatest travel books of all time.
Entertainment Weekly: “The trip would be no more than a gutsy stunt if Mahoney were not such a beautifully precise writer and such a compassionate observer.”
Provo Daily Herald: “I think Rosemary Mahoney is the best travel writer since Freya Stark, and since Stark is dead, Mahoney is singular in her field…Wherever she is and whatever she is doing, she is a congenial companion and her narrative fascinates.” -- Laura Wadle
Boston Globe: “You might call Rosemary Mahoney a writer of travel books. But the label hardly does justice to her remarkable gifts for scene setting, dialogue, characterization, and thoughtful cultural overview…Mahoney’s portraiture is always vivid and sprightly, enhanced by revelatory metaphor.” -- Dan Cryer
San Francisco Chronicle (front page review): ““Mahoney’s flair for description coaxes reverence and wonder, at once delicate, opalescent miniatures of her surroundings, though with the chew and savoriness of nougat….She also displays a felicity for drawing history into the mix, flashing sequins of background color.”-- Peter Lewis
Publisher’s Weekly (starred review): "This is travel writing at its most enjoyable: the reader is taken on a great trip with an erudite travel companion soaking up scads of history, culture and literary knowledge, along with the scenery. . . . A narrative laced with insight, goodwill and sometimes sadness. Mahoney's writing style is conversational, her use of metaphor adept."
USA TODAY: “…Mahoney is such an alluring storyteller and intelligent companion, she makes this a trip worth taking.” -- Jocelyn McClurg
People: “[Mahoney’s] compelling chronicle makes clear it was worth playing the spy…she experiences a rare view of a timeless culture….she tried to grasp the sense of ‘being let in on a secret.’ Grasp it she does, and Down the Nile is a first-rate report on her mission.” -- Michelle Green
Miami Herald: “Great travel writing is like a classic film: The author reels us in and offers us the sights and sounds of an exotic place without requiring us to leave our chairs. From Mark Twain to Bill Bryson, America has produced scores of restless souls eager to see the world and just as eager to report back. Rosemary Mahoney is one such writer, and she has a knack for injecting herself into unusual situations in faraway places and turning her adventures into riveting prose. . . Her language is so evocative, her descriptions so vivid, that the reader is carried along as if in a boat on a slow, smooth river….[Mahoney’s] rich, knowing voice conveys an understanding of the fundamental cultural differences between modern Egypt and the modern West and, at the same time, a sense that we are all human, despite the differences that divide us…..Surpassing obstacle after obstacle, she makes her way from Aswan to Quna with readers eagerly in tow. Traveling along with her, we almost forget we’re reading."—Charles Gershman
Christian Science Monitor: “Down the Nile is studded with small, sensitive portraits that reveal much about the land beyond the landscape.” -- Marjorie Kehe
Bust Magazine: Down the Nile is wicked vivid . . . spiced with a hearty does of cultural context, history, and dry humor
The Providence Journal: "With humor and grace Mahoney takes us to see things we could never see, meet people we would never know, make connections that would never occur to us -- all in sentences as sharpt and revealing as a camera lens, or as soft as a lover's caress, and sometimes, impossibly, both at the same time . . . Nothing you will ever learn about Egypt will strike you as being as honest and true as the portrait that emergese from this strange journey by an enormously gifted writer." -- Doug Riggs
The Telegraph: "I was delighted with her writing . . . it's an honest, charmingly observed book." -- Sophie Campbell
Cleveland Plain Dealer: “Mahoney’s Nile is worthy of awe…the book unfurls a poetry of perception.”
Harvard Magazine: “Mahoney’s book is hard to put down because of…the evocative beauty of her prose.”
The Union.com: “Rosemary Mahoney’s informed curiosity about the world, her glorious prose and her wit never fail to captivate.” -- Stacey Colin