This is the fictionalized story of Sally Naldrett, ladies maid to Lady Lucie Duff Gordon, and is set in the late 1800's. Both Sally and Lucie were real people. However, while a fair piece is known about Duff Gordon, known for her book Letters from Egypt, little is actually known about Sally, other than what Lady Duff Gordon wrote in her letters.
The book is narrated by Sally as she journeys from from England to Egypt in service to "her Lady" and then, once in Egypt, up and down the Nile river. Pullinger's imaging involves a what happens in Sally's life after a very significant event radically alters her relationship with her boss.
The whole British class system and the snobbery that seems to be so prevalent in that class system, is on vivid display here. It would be interesting to know what really transpired for Sally, but I expect Sally's life in reality, was not how Pullinger imagined it to be. I did enjoy though, the strength of character found in Pullinger's take on Sally.
The book is also infused with visual imagery of Egypt that made me seek more information. I'd love to travel to Luxor some day, to see the Village of Kings and the other places described in the book. Just not in the Egyption summer!! I can't imagine how anyone can survive that kind of heat, especially back then when there was no such thing as air conditioning!!