Mistress of Nothing by Kate Pullinger is a historical fiction novel. I didn’t like the title at all. So, that was a hard start for me. Titles are important to me, they are a framework, a place to start. And I didn’t like this starting place. But I was curious because it apparently won the Governor General’s award, so I bypassed the title and started reading. Any novel is a feat by the author, especially when historical fact is woven into a story. I do love good historical fiction, but this book just didn’t capture me. It is set in Egypt, late 1800s; a fascinating albeit repressive time in history. But Egypt did not come alive for me in these pages. There was too much of a blur with the British presence and Egyptians themselves. And although it is based on a true story I felt it was thin and there was a lot of repetition which felt like filler. I could not connect with the characters, they didn’t move off the page, sit with me while I was reading, linger after I closed the book. I didn’t feel for them, mourn for them, celebrate them. I kept reading because I was waiting for the book to improve, and for me, it just didn’t. It is a good book, but not a great one, certainly not “bold and moving” as described. I am at a loss as to why it won this award. Not only did it not stay with me when I turned the last page, I was relieved it was over. Mistress of Nothing, sadly, an apt title in the end.
- Post published:April 30, 2020