Winner of Canada’s prestigious Governor General’s Award, this richly rendered American debut captures the life of a lady’s maid on her journey from the confines of Victorian England to the uncharted reaches of Egypt’s Nile Valley, awakening first love, testing loyalties, and discovering that freedom has a price.
When Lady Duff Gordon, toast of Victorian London society, departs for the hot, dry climate of Egypt to seek relief from the debilitating effects of her tuberculosis, Sally doesn’t think twice about remaining by her mistress’ side. Sally and Lady Duff Gordon throw themselves into their exotic surroundings, adopting native dress, learning Arabic, and visiting the tombs of ancient pharaohs. Along the way, Sally comes to experience freedoms she, as a servant, has never known before, as well as her first taste of romance.
But freedom is a luxury that a maid can ill afford, and when Sally grasps for more than status entitles her to, she is brutally reminded that she is mistress of nothing. Ultimately, she must choose her master and a way back - or a way to the unknown.
Based on the real lives of Lady Duff Gordon and her maid, The Mistress of Nothing is a lush, sometimes dark portrait of forbidden love, tested loyalties, and finding an unexpected new definition of “home” - a compelling story that will take listeners on a journey they will not soon forget.
©2009 Kate Pullinger (P)2011 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
“The fascination of this deft and unfussily written narrative lies partly in the contrast made between then and now…[and] in one woman’s determination to survive.” (Sunday Times, London)
“Pullinger's narrative flows as smoothly as the Nile…. This is an absorbing and gripping tale.” (Independent)
I am disappointed to say that this audiobook is just not all it seems. The synopsis both on Audible.com and Amazon.com led me to believe that this book would have a lot more vitality, a lot more character. I was interested in hearing about this "mistress of nothing" - I was expecting a more personal look at the emotions of a serving woman who really is "mistress of nothing" and expected that to be a theme of the book.
I'm about 3 hours in, and it's incredibly slow and boring. I don't feel like we "know" the narrator - we follow her from menial task to menial task, but we don't get too far into her psyche, which is disappointing for me. The pace of the book is slow - lots of repetitive portions and just generally dull. I found myself just not caring about what happens next.
I would not recommend this book. With a length of only 8 hours, I am skeptical that the type of character development I like to see will be achieved in the remainder of the book. I doubt I will finish this audiobook. I'd use my credits elsewhere if I had a do-over.
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