Amelia Edwards was already a successful writer when she traveled a thousand miles up the Nile iwith an Egyptian crew and a few friends. She came, she tells us, merely to get out of the weather in Europe. The trip changed her life.
Her prodigous knowledge and research of Egypt and classical history places her travels in context. But it is her sensitive, romantic descriptions of Egyptian people and places that makes the book a delight to read over and over.
In her later writing style, we see the earlier influences brought to bear on prose that is a delight to read and a book that is exhaustive in its treatment of its subject. Her understanding of music, poetry, and art all combine in "A Thousand Miles." The book is a symphony of love for time and place. It begins quietly, swells to heights, then is relieved by minute details and humour. She educates the reader and then loses herself in rapturous descriptions of life on the Nile:
"...we used to wonder if in all the world there was another climate in which the effect of moonlight was so magical. To say that every object far or near was visible as distinctly as by day, yet more tenderly, is to say nothing. It was not only form that was defined; it was not only light and shadow that were vivid—it was colour that was present. Colour neither deadened nor changed; but softened, glowing, spiritualized."
On her return, she spent two years writing this book and was the driving force in the founding of the Egypt Exploration Fund. This superb account of Egypt in the 19th century will remain a classic for years to come.
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