Saturday, March 27, 2010

Show Me 5 Saturday: The Mistress of Nothing by Kate Pullinger

Hosted by Jenners at Find Your Next Book Here.

1 Book I Read: The Mistress of Nothing by Kate Pullinger

2 Words that describe the book: Historical Fiction

3 Settings where it took place or characters I met:

1. The book is set in Egypt - Lady Duff Gordon, toast of 1860's Victorian London, has tuberculosis and must leave her home and family to live in a climate that will benefit her health.
2. Sally Naldrett, her devoted lady's maid...and the narrator of the story.
3. Omar Abu Halaweh......the dragoman to the household.

4 Things I liked/disliked about the book.

1. I liked the wonderful way the author describes Egypt and she obviously is very familiar with the country. The heat, the river journey from Cairo to Luxor, the people and the culture, the historical issues and changes that were happening at the time make a superb background to the central story.
2. I liked the way Lady Duff Gordon was able to let go of Victorian social rules........she discards her corsets and dresses in Egyptian clothes, immerses herself in learning the language and takes an interest in local politics. This enables Sally to follow her lead and gradually the strict lady/servant barriers dissolve, as do those of servant and race between the two woman and Omar. Eventually they develop a relationship that is more one of friendship between equals.
3. I liked the romantic relationship between Sally and Omar even though it was to bring disaster.
4. I didn't like the cruel way Lady Duff Gordon treated Sally when the affair is discovered.

5 Stars or less for my rating:

I'm rating it 4 Stars - it's a well written combination of history, romance and social commentary that I enjoyed very much. I would like to have seen the author's note at the front of the book rather than the back as I think not all readers will be aware that the three main characters did exist and the book is actually part fact/part fiction. This part of Lady Duff Gordon's life is well documented through her letters she sent home from Egypt which are the inspiration for the book but it's not always easy to know where fact ends and fiction begins.


  1. I wish I had a non-fatal illness that would require me to live in Hawaii.

    This does sound interesting.

  2. Wow, this one sounds really interesting. There is always a lot to be learned from the author's notes or letter in the back. Have a great weekend and happy reading.!

  3. I really like the setup for this, relly cool!

    Book blog hopper here :) I started following you, this blog is a lot different from the ones I usually read!

  4. Nice thought, Jenners!

    It is a good read, Kaye.

    Hi Audrey - thanks for hopping by and joining the band of followers.