Sipping from the Nile: My Exodus from Egypt - Jean Naggar Do you remember when you were a child and you lied there in bed while one of your parents told you a story? I am not talking about their reading you a story, but rather they invent it for you as they speak. Or even better, you were told of your parent’s childhood memories, things that had happened to them when they were a child. THAT is how this book feels, if you listen to the audiobook version. I would recommend listening to it. The narrator is the author herself, and in this case the experience is magical. It is magical because she expresses what she wants to convey through her words. She sighs and laughs and is sorrowful at all the right points. This audiobook experience is wonderful. Let me add, while I speak of narration, that in her youth, growing up in Cairo and Alexandria, Egypt, English, French and Italian were used. They were used daily. Arabic was also a central language to her life style. Arabic expressions make up her childhood experiences. All of these languages are who she is. As a result, when she speaks French in this autobiography it is not a learned tongue but the tongue of her youth, and it is wonderful. There is no translation. The language spoken is genuine. The narration is perfect, splendid and wonderful.

Through the words of this book you get a peek into another person’s life. That person is from a Sephardic Jewish household. She grew up in Egypt in an extremely affluent family. A large family with cousins and aunts and uncles and grandparents, and these people become your own friends. She traveled to Europe over the holidays – Paris and London and Switzerland and more cities. You visit them with this family. What I want to emphasize is that you are part of the group; you are one of them. You eat with them, the Jewish repasts are crunchy or sour or deliciously sweet. You splash in the waves with them. And then when granny dies you feel so terribly sad. I feel like I know these people.

I love the words this author uses to express herself. She offers us lines that melt in my mouth. That is what her lines did to me. I am not sure that others will react as I did…….. I like how she wonders if writing this book was merely an ego trip, but concludes that “the past is the foundation on which we build our lives”. I will read more by this author. I like her writing style and her life philosophy.

I thought this book would teach me about Egyptian history. I thought this book would show me what it was like to live through the Suez crisis in 1956. It did, but not really. What I mean is that this is only one family’s experiences and their wealthy lifestyle is certainly not typical; you do not get a general depiction of the times. What I did experience was a wonderful and unique peek into another world. It was so honest, and yet told with politeness and understanding. Don’t expect family brawls, even when views conflict. This is not really a book to choose if you are looking for history. I didn’t get what I expected, but indeed much more!

The title is explained in the book, and it is fun. There is Arabian music at the beginning and end of each chapter, the ambiance created is enticing, you are drawn right in. An advantage to reading the book, I have been told, is that there are wonderful pictures included. Maybe a family tree is included? That would be helpful! Then you would see in the chart exactly who is who. Still, listening to this book was delightful from beginning to end. I highly recommend it.