The Mistress of Nothing by Kate Pullinger, narrated by Rosalyn Landor
Published in audio by Blackstone Audio; published in print by Touchstone, an imprint of Simon & Schuster
After losing her parents in a train crash, Sally was sent rather young into service, where she began as a scullery maid. Eventually she found herself as the lady’s maid to Lady Duff Gordon, and travels with her lady to Egypt. Lady Duff Gordon has tuberculosis and decides that she cannot stay alive in the cold English climate, and heads to Luxor, Egypt for her health. While there, Sally falls in love with Omar, Lady Duff Gordon’s dragoman. As much as Lady Duff Gordon gives in to the Egyptian way of life, Sally does even more so, entering into a romantic relationship with an Egyptian man – a relationship which her lady does not approve of at all.
Thoughts on the story:
Although fascinating to experience late 19th century Egypt, and to see the late 19th century interactions between Egyptians and Europeans, the first person narrative really slowed down the first section of the book. Everything was simply Sally observing what was happening around her without much action. Eventually the pace picked up, but I spent a good amount of time at the beginning of “The Mistress of Nothing” wondering when something would happen.
Thoughts on the audio production:
Rosalyn Landor is a talented narrator who infuses her words with emotion, but even she could not keep me interested during the slow points of the narrative. For my complete thoughts, please see my review at Audiofile Magazine.
I recommend this in print or audio for the historical fiction fan who is interested in getting a feel for the interactions between Europe and Egypt in the late 19th century, but be warned that the beginning starts slowly.
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