Be omnivorous, don't just read one kind of book, read everything. - Richard Wagamese

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Review: The Mistress of Nothing by Kate Pullinger

Publisher: McArthur & Company 
Pages: 248 
Source: Publisher 

'The Mistress of Nothing' was a riveting tale. Sally's parents died when she was young, her aunt chose not to care for her and sent her to work. Both she and her sister began working as maid's for well to do women. Sally eventually begins working for Lady Duff Gordon. When Lady Duff Gordon is stricken with tuberculosis she is exiled to Egypt, accompanying her is Sally. Lady Duff Gordon is hoping the dryer, warmer weather will be favourable for her condition, making it easier to breath and prolonging her life. The story takes place mostly in Egypt, and a new life begins for both Sally and Lady Duff Gordon. 

Sally sees herself as a spinster, although she doesn't know when chose to have no future. She is now thirty and not married, devoted to Lady Duff Gordon and believes that she will always be her protector. Eventually, Lady Duff Gordon and Sally are forced to unfasten their constricted english clothing and settle for lighter, cooler Egyptian clothing. The two of them become accustomed to life in Egypt, adapting to the lifestyles and language. Omar is hired to help the ladies, and teach them the ways of life in Egypt. Sally falls in love with married Omar. Sally is sure that Lady Duff Gordon will continue to protect her, since she has helped many in her situation before. Omar has decided he will marry Sally, as Egyptian law will allow him two wives. Fellow Egyptians are not scandalized, they are accepting of Sally. What happens next is not expected. 

I was engrossed in this riveting historical novel. As always historical novels make me curious, and I will do a little more research on Lady Duff Gordon. The story did not end how I wanted it to, but that does not make it less of a novel. The writing is astounding. The story picks up pace around the second half. I mostly read it in one day, I could not put it down. Highly recommended! The Governor General award is well deserved and justified in my opinion. 


  1. You've certainly made me curious about this book! Great review!

  2. When they're well written, historical novels make me curious too. I'll have to check this one out.

  3. This sounds good! I don't think I've heard of this before but it went to my wishlist.

  4. I always love a good historical novel and this one sounds like a fab one! I need to check it out.

  5. Glad you enjoyed the novel. I read it a couple of years ago and was pleasantly surprised by it.

  6. I remember seeing this one and wondering if it was worth the GG award. Happy to hear that it was well merited.

  7. You should look up "Letters From Egypt" - Lady Duff's side of the story (although she doesn't really focus on Sally). I was heartbroken for Sally - such devotion to be cast aside with such carelessness. This was a wonderful read