Title: The Mistress of Nothing
Author: Kate Pullinger
Publisher: McArthur & Company
'The Mistress of Nothing' was a riveting tale. Sally's parents died when she was young. Sally's aunt was unable or 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 in 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 this happened. She is now thirty and not married. She is 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 the ways of life in Egypt. Sally falls in love with married Omar and becomes pregnant. 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. Lady Duff Gordon is appalled by Sally's actions. She wants nothing to do with her, does not want to see her and has vowed to send her back to England and send her child to live with Omar's first and true wife.
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.
*I missed the bus because I was so engrossed in this novel.