Sarah's Reviews > Mistress Of Nothing

Mistress Of Nothing by Kate Pullinger
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's review
Apr 05, 2011

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bookshelves: adult-fiction, historical, audio-version
Read in April, 2011

Lady Duff Gordon, who has TB, has removed herself from England to the dry deserts of Egypt. Her lady's maid, Sally, attends to her, sacrificing everything to accompany her up the Nile in search of a better climate for Lady Duff Gordon's lungs. They encounter the native Egyptians, learn Arabic, and do away with their constricting English clothes in favor of looser, cooler fabrics. Pullinger attempts to show the blurring of the line between servant and lady, but ultimately tells us it happens. She does succeed, though, in portraying an vibrant and realistic desert setting. While Sally has firsthand experience in the action, the novel is engaging as she experiences things she never dreamed of before. After Sally becomes pregnant, her narrative often relies on what she has been told secondhand, particularly via Omar, and this drags down the interest level. Pullinger addresses some weighty issues, including polygamy and loyalty. The result is a unique novel that is definitely different from anything else I've read. I just wish she'd taken a different approach to presenting the plot information to the reader. For fans of historical fiction.
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