When the Borders stores closed about a year ago, I picked up every last travel book I could find. The sales were too good to ignore. One of the books I grabbed was Rosemary Mahoney’s Down the Nile: Alone in a Fisherman’s Skiff, which wasn’t quite what I had originally expected.
Down the Nile is Rosemary Mahoney’s story of rowing down a section of the Nile River. She got the bug on a previous trip and returned to Egypt with the intention of rowing north, or downstream, from Aswan to Qena, which is a short distance north from the better-known Luxor. Much of the journey she did on her own, which is what she had intended from the start.
I think Down the Nile is an empowering book for women everywhere., not just saying but showing that a woman can do anything a man can do, particularly if it is in a culture and society like Egypt’s that may say otherwise. I thought Mahoney’s story was well-written, quite conversational, and very easy to read. It was both engaging and thought-provoking.
Too often, though, throughout Down the Nile Rosemary Mahoney relied on quotes from Gustave Flaubert and Florence Nightingale. I liked how she used their words, but it really seemed like she was relying on them as a crutch; I would have preferred to read Mahoney’s words describing a sunset, or her thought on the country, rather than those from another writer. And at times I felt like this took away from her own story.
Down the Nile by Rosemary Mahoney is a book which I would recommend to anyone interested in visiting Egypt someday. It is an interesting account from quite a different angle compared to so many other stories written about the country. And it is also one of inspiration, encouraging people to go and do what they want and are passionate about even when others say it cannot be done; this is the case of a woman rowing a boat down the Nile River.