The Housemaid’s Daughter
Set in South Africa, this novel follows the lives of two women divided by colour yet united by friendship and shared love of music. Mrs Cath has left her family in Ireland to become the bride of Edward, a man she hasn’t seen for five years. Her closest relationship becomes the one that she forms with the housemaid’s daughter of the title. Ada is beautiful, loyal, hardworking and loves the piano. Both sides of the racial divide are shown as apartheid is introduced and enforced.
The difficulties of being in the middle, neither one thing nor the other, are shown through the character of Dawn, Ada’s mixed-race daughter. The political backdrop is carefully described and helps give the novel its power and force. Mentions of names such as Mandela and Steve Biko serve to remind the reader of how short a time ago this terrible system existed. The novel is being promoted as the South African The Help, and the parallels are clear. Certainly if The Help was a book you enjoyed, you will certainly find much to delight in here. Recommended as a good story that gives insights into the lives of black and white during a crucial period of South Africa’s history.