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.
“Gorgeously vivid prose . . . 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. . . “ The New York Times Book Review"
“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.” -- Author Jan Morris submitting Down the Nile as one of the 86 greatest travel books of all time in CONDE NAST TRAVELER.
“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, San Francisco Chronicle (front page review)
“[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, People
“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, Miami Herald
"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."—Publisher’s Weekly (starred review)
Down the Nile is , “Wicked vivid . . . Spiced with a hearty does of cultural context, history, and dry humor.” BUST MAGAZINE
“With humor and grace Mahoney takes us to see things we could never see, met people we would never know, make connections that would never occur to us—all in sentences as sharp and revealing as a camera lens, or as soft as alover’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 emerges from this strange journey by an enormously gifted writer.” The Providence Journal
“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 . . . History, literature and adventure combine to make “Down the Nile” a treasure.” -- PROVO DAILY HERALD
“Quirky . . . charming . . . Mahoney is such an alluring storyteller and intelligent companion, she makes this a trip worth taking.” – USA TODAY
“Riveting….The trip would be no more than a gutsy stunt if Mahoney were not such a beautifully precise writer and such a compassionate observer. It is easy for her to empathize with Amr Khaled, the grave, bighearted boatman who accompanies her on the first leg of her journey and whose humanity will engrave itself in your memory….In the course of her trip, Mahoney traversed just 120 miles of the world’s longest river; by the end of her brilliant travelogue, you’ll wish she’d tackled the whole length.”..—Jennifer Reese, Entertainment Weekly (An EW Pick)
“That Mahoney is adventurous is by now a matter of record . . . even more essential to the success of ‘Down the Nile’ are Mahoney’s quick-silver intelligence, her sharp eyes, and her slightly astringent voice . . . Most readers will end up grateful for the chance to have tagged along.” –THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR
“Helen of Troy went up the Nile. So did Hadrian and Plato. Julius Caesar and Napoleon sailed upon it in conquest, while Mary, Joseph and Jesus are said to have fled along its waters. Among all the figures to float along the Nile, none came home with a story like that of Rosemary Mahoney . . . [Mahoney is] a shrewd, funny, and determined adventurer, with a style as lissome as the river itself . . . Mahoney’s NILE is worthy of awe . . . the book unfurls a poetry of perception.” Cleveland Plain Dealer
“Down the Nile is hard to put down both because of the stickiness of a woman rowing the Nile alone, and because of he evocative beauty of its prose prose.” Harvard Magazine