Mistress of Nothing is based on the true travel adventures of Lady Duff Gordon and her faithful maid, Sally. In the dry clime of the Egyptian desert, a leading London socialite, Lady Duff Gordon was seeking relief from her tuberculosis. Her six year adventures were commemorated in her personal letters and later remade into this book. Both women approached their new surrounding with respect and admiration for the exotic culture, and love for adventure in 19th century Egypt. They took an immediate liking to wearing native Egyptian dress, learned Arabic fluently and plunged into romance. They experienced adventures and trepidations while traveling down the Nile to Luxor, the new home they made next to ancient tombs.
Mistress of Nothing is written in a pleasing and easy flowing language, the characters and landscapes are well developed and vividly described and coming easily to life in the reader’s imagination. However, the open ending was little disappointing.
Mistress of Nothing is reminiscent of The Help, only taking place in the Middle East with Victorian England characters. It’s what you’d get if you mixed Downton Abbey with Upstairs Downstairs and moved it all to Egypt.