Mistress of Nothing by Kate Pullinger
Blurbed by Cassandra, Librarian at Mary Jacobs Library
Mistress of Nothing tells the story of Sally, Lady Duff-Gordon’s nurse and maid. When Duff-Gordon becomes ill the two women travel from England to Egypt in hopes that the dry climate will improve her health. Sally faithfully follows her mistress, spending every waking minute caring for her, utterly devoted and loyal. But Egypt awakens something new in Sally and when the bond between Lady and maid is tested, Lady Duff Gordon proves a formidable enemy.
The setting and backdrop of the story, a rich and fantastical Egypt is like a character in itself. The historical details, engaging minor characters and lush landscape, make for an engrossing read. Sally herself is an easy person to love – tough and sentimental, determined, smart, and yet naive. In the end it is her fierce will to stay in Egypt that makes her so unforgettable.
** In 1862, the real Lucie, Lady Duff-Gordon, a well known writer and hostess, traveled to Egypt with her maid. Her letters form the basis for this historical novel and are available through Project Gutenberg.