Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Mistress of Nothing

by Kate Pullilnger

Another historical fiction told from the viewpoint of a servant. This book is based on Letters From Egypt by Lady Lucie Duff Gordon, which details Lady Gordon's necessary escape from England's damp, wet climate to the hot, dry conditions of Egypt. Her her lady's maid, Sally Naldrett eagerly joins the journey. Sally describes much of their travel, the constant battle Lady Gordon faces with her health, social and political aspects of Egypt and her own encounters that have several unfortunate consequences.

The Mistress of Nothing mainly depicts issues related to class and status during the mid-1800's. I found it interesting how both cultures were very driven by similar social rankings and the obvious advantages available to those in the upper echelon. These systems provided almost no movement between groups. The information about tomb robbing and glimpses of Egypt as a modern world trying to grow up between antiquities and ancient architecture also intrigued me.

The basic plot was rather predictable; based on the title one can insinuate where the novel is headed.  Although I've sat on this book a few days before writing this summary, I still can't pinpoint how much of a recommendation I'd give. This year I have read several novels I'd definitely suggest first, but if you're caught up and interested in this era and another class distinction type novel, this is a pretty good read.

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