The Mistress of Nothing by Kate Pullinger
A Novel

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...it is less the opacity of historical context that constrains this novel than Sally's elusiveness as a character. Throughout she oscillates between a docile subservience and a sense of entitlement...
-Guardian

Synopsis

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, erotic, and compelling story about the power of race, class, and love
 

About Kate Pullinger

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Kate Pullinger is the author of several novels and collections of short stories and has collaborated with Jane Campion on the novelization of the film The Piano. The Mistress of Nothing, winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction, is her American debut. She lives in London.  Visit her website at www.katepullinger.com.
 
Published January 4, 2011 by Touchstone. 258 pages
Genres: History, Romance, Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Critic reviews for The Mistress of Nothing
All: 3 | Positive: 1 | Negative: 2

Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Clare Clark on Jul 31 2009

...it is less the opacity of historical context that constrains this novel than Sally's elusiveness as a character. Throughout she oscillates between a docile subservience and a sense of entitlement...

Read Full Review of The Mistress of Nothing: A Novel | See more reviews from Guardian

The Independent

Good
Reviewed by NICHOLAS MURRAY on Aug 20 2009

Pullinger's narrative flows as smoothly as the Nile whose density and odour she seductively evokes. This is an absorbing and gripping tale...

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Quill & Quire

Below average
Reviewed by Sara Forsyth on Nov 01 2009

It’s a desperate situation, often recounted in Sally’s stilted, play-by-play narration...Pullinger’s decision to have Sally narrate the story ultimately weakens the characterization.

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Reader Rating for The Mistress of Nothing
68%

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