Simon & Schuster, $24.00
Victorian romance... titled English women... Egypt. Just the kind of book I usually love.
I found The Mistress of Nothing to be an enjoyable "beach" kind of read and I find myself scratching my head wondering why it was chosen to receive Canada's Governor's General Literary Award for 2009. I was sadly disappointed with the book, as I had been very excited to get this e-galley to read.
The story of Lucie (the Lady Duff Gordon) and her maid, Sally, is certainly told in a believable and entertaining manner, but I felt the basic descriptions were lacking in solid details and then failed to add the depth and lushness that this book could have provided. Having previously read and enjoyed several historical novels within this same time period, I sadly found myself remembering the lush and vivid descriptions of the Nile and its surrounds that others had placed in my mind. I struggled to "see" Sally and Lucie within the confines of the descriptions provided.
The story itself was interesting, but on reflection, I got the feeling that this was "much ado" about "nothing."
The publisher's synopsis: The Mistress of Nothing is “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.