About the book:
The American debut of an award-winning novel about a lady’s maid’s awakening as she journeys from the confines of Victorian England to the uncharted far reaches of Egypt’s Nile Valley.
When Lady Duff Gordon, paragon of London society, departs for the hot, dry climate of Egypt to seek relief from her debilitating tuberculosis, her lady’s maid, Sally, doesn’t hesitate to leave the only world she has known in order to remain at her mistress’s side. As Sally gets farther and farther from home, she experiences freedoms she has never known—forgoing corsets and wearing native dress, learning Arabic, and having her first taste of romance.
But freedom is a luxury that a lady’s maid can ill afford, and when Sally’s newfound passion for life causes her to forget what she is entitled to, she is brutally reminded she is mistress of nothing. Ultimately she must choose her master and a way back home—or a way to an unknown future.
Based on the real lives of Lady Duff Gordon and her maid, The Mistress of Nothing is a lush and compelling story about the power of race, class, and love.
I ended up enjoying this book a lot more than I thought I would when I first started reading it. Things really picked up around chapter six and then I couldn't stop reading until I finished the book. It had a happy-sad sort of ending, but it was satisfying to me. There were definite pros and cons to Sally's life and the decisions she made as Lady Duff Gordon's ladies maid. The same went for Lady Duff Gordon and Omar, her loyal servant. The story was thoroughly engrossing and I found myself living in Egypt back in the mid 1800s. It was quite an adventure. I found the cultural aspects of the story fascinating and the romance quite intriguing.
The Mistress of Nothing was a love story for certain, but it had a bittersweet feel to it that I found quite addicting. Sometimes those stories are the best kind because in real life everything isn't peaches and cream, plus every decision made has ramifications that are far-reaching. I loved the part where Sally discovered that part of the problem was that she didn't "think" about what she was doing. She just gave herself over to it, reveled in it even. That type of impulsive behavior is often most destructive because usually it's not until the consequences are right in front of us that we realize things didn't have to go that route in the first place. But by then it was too late.
It sounds like I'm talking in code, I know. But it's the only way to share my thoughts without giving a spoiler. All in all I really enjoyed this book. It started out a bit tedious, but once I became engrossed in the story I had to keep reading until I finished it. It had a unique feel to it sort of like "The English Patient," but not as tragic. Very compelling story and well worth the read.
The Mistress of Nothing was published by Touchstone Books and released in August 2011.