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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gentle, beautiful memoir
Reading this memoir was almost like sitting and talking to the author in person. Jean Naggar's writing is so lyrical and descriptive the reader is instantly transported into her life and her world. This is history at its most intimate and personal. Her life covers a very difficult period of contemporary history yet she and her family seem to have lived these...
Published on 4 Mar 2012 by CJ Craig

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Solid memoir
Jean Naggar comes from a wealthy Jewish family who had lived in Cairo for centuries. The early parts of Sipping from the Nile deal with an extravagant, sheltered childhood, as Jean and her family live comfortably in a large house overlooking the Nile. Servants take care of her every material need, she is sent to a prestigious English boarding school and the family...
Published 19 months ago by Sam


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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gentle, beautiful memoir, 4 Mar 2012
By 
CJ Craig (UK) - See all my reviews
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Reading this memoir was almost like sitting and talking to the author in person. Jean Naggar's writing is so lyrical and descriptive the reader is instantly transported into her life and her world. This is history at its most intimate and personal. Her life covers a very difficult period of contemporary history yet she and her family seem to have lived these tribulations with grace. In many respects she was protected from the dangers that filled her era. She was surrounded by a loving family and persons working in the family home. Some may view her life as privileged, and in many ways it was. But she gives us a glimpse into a particular aspect of life in Egypt, in Europe and later in America when so much going on. Her experiences help to flesh out what can often be dry and tedious in formal historical accounts. And it helps to hear the Sephardic Jewish experience during World War II; something often overlooked in historical accounts.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and getting to know a family that I would never, ordinarily, have a chance to meet.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A charming and lyrical account of a very privileged childhood, 25 Mar 2012
By 
Schneehase (Norfolk, UK) - See all my reviews
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It is difficult to see how someone as rich and privileged as Jean Naggar could write an autobiography that doesn't make the reader spit nails and hate her - but she has managed it, somehow. Jean was born into a multi-generational, multi-national household which also contained a number of servants, including her Nanny, and was an only child for the first 5 years of her life. She recounts memories of those years interspersed with family history and flash-forwards into a future that will be very different indeed.
Jean's family is Jewish and this underpins the memoir; this sense Jews have that they aren't safe and that they can't permanently settle anywhere for fear of persecution and sure enough, it comes.
Jean's life covers a fascinating span of history; the 2nd two thirds of the twentieth century (and on into the 21st) as she was born in 1937. International events shaped the course of her life, taking her from Egypt across Europe to her final home in America.
Jean becomes a literary agent and shows in this memoir that she really can write and write very well indeed. The book becomes a paean to a wonderful childhood filled with love and populated by family and friends in marvellous environments; now gone forever.
I felt a connection to this memoir as I also lived abroad as a child and there was something about the world that Jean conjures up on the page that was familiar to me, although I hasten to add I didn't live in anything like the luxury that Jean did!
Interspersed throughout the book are photographs of the people and places Jean writes about and also, quite unusually, many of the rooms of her childhood home - Jean's descriptions are so vivid that even without the back-up of the photos, I was able to 'see' where she lived and the people she knew.
If you enjoy autobiographies, even though Jean Naggar isn't a 'celeb', this is definitely a book to while away a lazy afternoon with, to immerse yourself in the rich smoothness of her prose and to enjoy the sense of being transported to a world that has now gone beyond retrival.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Solid memoir, 3 Jun 2013
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This review is from: Sipping from the Nile: My Exodus from Egypt (Kindle Edition)
Jean Naggar comes from a wealthy Jewish family who had lived in Cairo for centuries. The early parts of Sipping from the Nile deal with an extravagant, sheltered childhood, as Jean and her family live comfortably in a large house overlooking the Nile. Servants take care of her every material need, she is sent to a prestigious English boarding school and the family summer in Europe, away from the stifling Egyptian heat. The initial chapters are full of Sephardic Jewish rituals and there's an overwhelming sense of a large and close-knit family. But after the Suez crisis in 1956, when Britain, France and Israel tried to stop the nationalisation of the vital Suez Canal, the atmosphere in Egypt changes for Jean's family. After surviving the horrors of World War Two, the Jewish Egyptian population comes under threat due to anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish sentiment. Eventually, Jean's family is forced to leave Egypt after some danger and the world of her childhood vanishes forever.

Sipping from the Nile is a very well written memoir. Naggar conjures up the atmosphere of upper class childhood perfectly and the love she clearly has for Egypt comes off of every page. Although the chapters dealing with boarding school and time abroad are also well written, the memoir truly comes to life when Naggar is writing about Egypt and the traditions of her family. I learned a lot about Sephardic Jews and felt like I was completely immersed in Naggar's world, a feeling that was helped by the photographs scattered through each chapter.

I must admit that whilst I was reading, I spent a lot of time waiting for the Suez crisis to turn up. For a book whose by-line is 'my exodus from Egypt', this event doesn't actually occur until quite late in the game, at least two thirds of the way through. Whilst the initial section dealing with her childhood felt leisurely and a bit over-long, the sections dealing with how it felt to leave Egypt behind could have been explored further. I appreciated the final chapters where Jean and her own family return to Egypt, but I wanted to know more about the intervening years, more about what it felt like to be unwelcome in your home land.

Sipping from the Nile is a decent, well written memoir about an interesting community. I enjoyed it, but it didn't set my world on fire.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely read, 23 May 2013
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This review is from: Sipping from the Nile: My Exodus from Egypt (Kindle Edition)
I really enjoyed this book, in fact I could hardly put it down.
It was so interesting, a part of history I knew nothing about. Although I have been to Egypt a few times, I never realised what the people of that country have been through, especially the Jews.
Thank you to Jean Naggar for tell her family`s story.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Priceless Family Stories, 3 May 2012
By 
Richard M. Seel (Norfolk UK) - See all my reviews
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Not everyone is fortunate enough to have a history and a family circle like Jean Naggar's. The family tree (unfortunately this is at the back of the book and I didn't find it until I'd nearly finished reading the book) is a great help.

I thoroughly enjoyed all the stories about the different members of her extensive family and the pictures were a great delight. But for me the book really came alive when Naggar started writing about herself and the effect the nationalising of the Suez Canal had on her. An idyllic life suddenly changed and she and her family were no longer safe and needed to get out of Cairo as quickly as possible. Initially her father did not believe that they would be affected having been part of the business world for such a long time. However he quickly became aware of the need to hide his wife and children although he continued to work at his bank. Naggar's family lost virtually everything and her relations scattered to different parts of the world.

Naggar had been made to go to Roedean, much of which she did not enjoy but her schooling stood her in good stead and she was able to go to university when she and her family emigrated to London. She writes freely about her transition to an adult but still dependent upon her parents and their approval of her life.

Naggar's descriptions of weddings, clothes, food, religious observance and her family's determination to succeed in their new lives are beautifully documented. I loved the small intimate photos of her past and present - the homes and rooms they lived in, clothes, faloukas on the Nile, and so much more - descriptions of an age gone by.

Despite her privileged upbringing, Naggar portrays her family and herself as caring people who enjoyed what they had but not at the expense of others. A fascinating portrayal of Cairo and a family determined to stick together although they might live miles apart from each other.

Review by Shirleyanne Seel.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it with a passion., 5 May 2013
By 
Helen C. Mears "seagull6" (Tyne and Wear U.K.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sipping from the Nile: My Exodus from Egypt (Kindle Edition)
Read this book whilst on holiday in Turkey in just one day.It just evoked wonderful memories of previous journeys to Egypt whilst explaining the difficulties of being Jewish during the Suez Crisis.Wonderfully written with beautiful photographs.I just loved this book and would highly recommend it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read, 14 May 2013
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This review is from: Sipping from the Nile: My Exodus from Egypt (Kindle Edition)
loved this unusual book. The author transports the reader to another world and another era. It often reads like fiction because the facts are presented in a fascinating manner. A great book for any lovers of Egypt and The Nile and for history lovers too.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An enchanting read, 3 Jan 2013
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This review is from: Sipping from the Nile: My Exodus from Egypt (Kindle Edition)
An excellent account of life in Egypt and how the forming of the state of Israel had such an impact on Jewish families living in the Middle East. Beautifully written and an emotional read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Detailed memoir of a family upheaval, 28 Mar 2013
By 
elsie purdon "reads too much" (dorset uk) - See all my reviews
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This book is a very detailed account of a wealthy family having to relocate when Middle Eastern politics ignite after Egypt nationalises the Suez canal and then declares all Jews as enemies, even people who have lived there for generations and have been of benefit to the country.
Although I didn't take to the long and over detailed account of how wealthy and well thought of the family had been, I did feel sympathy for them at having to cope with the upheaval of leaving their homeland and migrating to America, the UK and other parts of Europe.
There are some very sad stories of unnecessary deaths ( generally medical) and the horrific nightmare of the Nazi's in Europe.
I have a family history of migration as well, but mine is very different family. I hoped to find some common ground but I didn't. The differences between Middle Eastern Jews and East European Jews is far greater than I had realised.
There are some interesting descriptions of Jewish history and the need to keep on the move, and of being frequently displaced.
Some of the recollections and family stories are fascinating, and do paint a vivid picture of the past in foreign lands. Reading these parts of the book are like stepping back in time and well worth reading.

I did find the book difficult to stick with though. I had to keep reminding myself who was who and where they fitted in, which required more effort than I wanted to make.
The book feels kind of scattered, rather than having a flow. I kept getting confused as to who was who in the family. I didn't find out til I had finished the book that there is a family tree provided but it is tucked away at the end.
Dotted throughout are lovely black and white photos of family members that bring the stories to life. It's always good to see the faces of people you are reading about.
Worth reading, but does need effort to stick with it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars sipping from the nile, 11 Dec 2012
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This review is from: Sipping from the Nile: My Exodus from Egypt (Kindle Edition)
a beautiful book. jean nagger just meanders on about all her lovely family. her privileged education. what a joy to read about all her loving family aunts uncles cousins . no one seems left out . the lovely wealth and education (Rodean school.)she experienced.. the isolation and sadness that came along at the liveliest time of her life. in her teens. The escape from it into another wealth of love. I actually loved reading about her family and certainly the way she writes about and so unconscionably the wealth she was surrounded by. We can always find books about poor me. hardships etc. This was just her life, which she shares in her book. I also learned a bit about politics. all the politics aside. Jean must carefully observe closely every one she meets. It is her summary of the people dear to her that is so vast and so nice. I would love jean as one of my many friends.
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