The Mistress of Nothing
Publication Date: January 2011
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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 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.