Sipping from the Nile

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 26 February, 2012, 12:00am


Sipping from the Nile
by Jean Naggar
AmazonEncore (e-book)

The title borrows from an old Egyptian belief that anyone who drank the water of the Nile before a trip would always return. Few would be so foolhardy as to sip from the polluted river these days, but Jean Naggar remembers a time - before her family, like thousands of other Jews in the country, were forced to leave - when her grandmother would become agitated if the tradition were flouted. Naggar, a New York-based literary agent, guides readers through her enchanted life before the Suez crisis in 1956, when president Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalised the canal and 'swept aside the veils of protection with which my parents had so carefully surrounded me'. It was a world of privilege, where English, French, Italian, Hebrew and Arabic were spoken in the author's home in Cairo. Those looking for political tension and a history lesson will be disappointed with Naggar's memoir, which at times verges on the indulgent. One character whose story could have been the basis for its own book is Naggar's aunt Helen, who collaborated with the Zionist movement that helped create Israel.