The Mistress of Nothing by Kate PullingerThe Mistress of Nothing by Kate Pullinger

The Mistress of Nothing

byKate Pullinger

Paperback | September 1, 2009

Pricing and Purchase Info


Earn 125 plum® points

Out of stock online

Available in stores


Lady Duff Gordon is the toast of Victorian London society. But when her debilitating tuberculosis means exile, she and her devoted lady's maid, Sally, set sail for Egypt. It is Sally who describes, with a mixture of wonder and trepidation, the odd menage (marshalled by the resourceful Omar) that travels down the Nile to a new life in Luxor. When Lady Duff Gordon undoes her stays and takes to native dress, throwing herself into weekly salons, language lessons and excursions to the tombs, Sally too adapts to a new world, which affords her heady and heartfelt freedoms never known before. But freedom is a luxury that a maid can ill-afford, and when Sally grasps more than her status entitles her to, she is brutally reminded that she is mistress of nothing.
**Winner of the Governor General's Award for Fiction
Kate Pullinger was born in Vancouver, and now lives in London. She is the author of TINY LIES, a collection of short stories, and the novels WHEN THE MONSTER DIES, WEIRD SISTER and A LITTLE STRANGER. She collaborated with Jane Campion on the novel of the film The Piano, and has written for film, television and radio. She teaches creati...
Title:The Mistress of NothingFormat:PaperbackDimensions:256 pages, 8.6 × 5.63 × 0.7 inPublished:September 1, 2009Publisher:McArthur & CompanyLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1552787982

ISBN - 13:9781552787984


Rated 3 out of 5 by from Nearly an award winning novel Two women share this book; the upper class Lady Duff Gordon, Victorian writer, traveller and intellectual, whose celebrated salons were attended by Tennyson, Thackeray and George Meredith. In 1862, at the age of 40, tuberculosis would force her to travel to Egypt, where it was hoped that the hot, dry climate would speed her recovery. It is her maid Sally Naldrett who is the central character taking advantage of the freedom Egypt provides to make decisions which could never have been considered in the oppressive confines of Victorian England. I had looked forward to reading this book, it takes place in a time period I enjoy and the setting of Egypt in 1862 would I hope be a change of pace yet I finished the book somewhat disappointed. Author Kate Pullinger had obviously done her research and what she wrote was well described and interesting however I got the feeling historical fiction was not to her taste therefore she was overly constrained in her writing; not wanting to be mistaken for the worse of this genre. Her characters suffered from the same reserved writing style. I never felt any connection with Sally instead was frustrated by her constant gullibility. When you are a woman in 1800’s and especially if your life is that of Lady’s maid you know the rules. From her uncharacteristically uninhibited sexual acceptance of Omar to her continual shock by her mistress's reaction to the subsequent events it often doesn’t read as plausible. How could she not know that the carefree and rule free Egyptian household Lucie Duff Gordon allowed was hers to control. It could all end with a few well-chosen words on her part. The lifestyle and historical references were fascinating; there is just not enough for one to become completely immersed. Even though it is not her story a more well-defined sense of who Duff Gordon is would have subsequently given more meaning to Sally’s actions. Pullinger brings Sally’s story to an uneven finish with a few shoddily written sentences which does speak more to the endings of lower grade historical novels. Lucie Duff Gordon’s death reveals she was also the mistress of nothing as she is buried in Cairo surrounded by only a few servants and villagers. If Kate Pullinger had researched her readers as well as she researched Duff Gordon and Egypt she would have been more respectful in both character development and depth of writing style then the book truly would have deserved to be the ‘Winner of the Governor General’s Literary Awards’ as it stands now it is merely a fairly good read.
Date published: 2012-01-09
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Highly NOT recommended! I can say with all honesty that this is possible the worst book I have read in the last five years. It has the complexity of a Harlequin romance, minus all the juicy bits. The characters are one-dimensional, unbelievable and unbelievably irritating all at the same time. The plot is clumsily constructed and highly unrealistic. The pretty cover is the best thing about this book. How it won the Governor General's award is beyond me.
Date published: 2010-05-10
Rated 3 out of 5 by from HMMMM Well, I was surprised that this book won the GG's. Then I was more surprised to find out this book is based on a true story. The first few pages were disappointing, but as the story unfolded, I started developing feelings for the characters and I think at that point I started to really enjoy the book
Date published: 2010-01-22

Editorial Reviews

"I couldn't stop reading this wonderful book and was sad when it was over. Kate Pullinger's skill is to make you feel like the confidante of her strong and unconventional heroine as she journeys down the Nile into the greatest adventure of her life. Highly recommended."