Monday, February 13, 2012

The Mistress of Nothing

The Mistress of Nothing. Kate Pullinger. 2011. Simon & Schuster. 272 pages.

The truth is that, to her, I was not fully human.

I found The Mistress of Nothing to be a fascinating historical novel. The narrator, a 'spinster' named Sally, serves as lady's maid to Lady Duff Gordon. Lady Duff is dying, but the doctors feel a change in climate might postpone the end a few years at least. So Lady Duff separates herself from her family, her friends, her society--she LOVES to be the center of it all--and heads to Egypt with her maid, Sally Naldrett.

Set, for the most part, in Egypt during Victoria's reign (1860s), this novel is so very, very fascinating. It tells the story of how two English women adapted to Egypt--to a new culture, society, way of life. One of the first things they do is hire a dragoman, Omar. These three become very, very close. But even in their 'close' moments, there is a very real distinction between servant and mistress. Lady Duff may act friendly, but she is above them both. They are her paid servants. They owe their loyalty to her. They almost belong to her--as far as she sees it. Sally forgets this for a time. But she'll have months--if not years--to see the truth of the matter.

So, this novel is about what happens when these two 'servants' fall in love with each other. One a seemingly proper English woman, the other an Egyptian man...

This novel was such a good, quick read. I'm not sure I loved it. But I sure found it hard to put down!

Read The Mistress of Nothing
  • If you love historical fiction
  • If you love novels based on true people and events
  • If you have an interest in Egypt--past or present
  • If you enjoy novels set during the Victorian time period
  • If you enjoy bittersweet romance

© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Kailana said...

I really enjoyed Pullinger from what I have read so far. I didn't necessarily love this one, either, but I did enjoy it.

Susan (Reading World) said...

I enjoyed this one too. It was sad, but well worth the read!

Jules said...

I've had this sitting on my shelf for a while and keep putting it off, the summery on the back of the book doesn't seem to do the book much justice - hearing it has a nice focus on Egyptian culture/history makes me want to read it sooner. Thanks for the review.