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The Housemaid's Daughter (2012)

av Barbara Mutch

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
17412120,606 (3.79)2
"When Cathleen Harrington leaves her home in Ireland in 1919 to travel to South Africa, she knows that she does not love the man she is to marry there --her fiance Edward, whom she has not seen for five years. Isolated and estranged in a small town in the harsh Karoo desert, her only real companions are her diary and her housemaid, and later the housemaid's daughter, Ada. When Ada is born, Cathleen recognizes in her someone she can love and respond to in a way that she cannot with her own family. Under Cathleen's tutelage, Ada grows into an accomplished pianist and a reader who cannot resist turning the pages of the diary, discovering the secrets Cathleen sought to hide. As they grow closer, Ada sees new possibilities in front of her--a new horizon. But in one night, everything changes, and Cathleen comes home from a trip to find that Ada has disappeared, scorned by her own community. Cathleen must make a choice: should she conform to society, or search for the girl who has become closer to her than her own daughter? Set against the backdrop of a beautiful, yet divided land, The Housemaid's Daughter is a startling and thought-provoking novel that intricately portrays the drama and heartbreak of two women who rise above cruelty to find love, hope, and redemption"--… (mer)
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» Se även 2 omnämnanden

engelska (10)  spanska (1)  katalanska (1)  Alla språk (12)
Visa 1-5 av 12 (nästa | visa alla)
I really wanted to like this book. I thought the writing was good;the subject a worthy one. I listened to this on audio and I also liked both of the readers. So why am I not finishing it? It is toooo long. I am a little over half way through and I just can't seem to stay interested. Mutch needed to move this story along. And her character development needed some help as well. Ada was way too nice, too forgiving, too naive (so naive that at some points in the book I thought she was a simpleton). And Catherine too was unbelievable-she does nothing with her spoiled, unruly daughter, and pretends that her husband has done nothing wrong, and I could see what direction Ada's daughter was taking, so I just thought it was a good time to just give up. I have too many books on my list to read to force myself to finish one that is not holding my attention. ( )
  tshrope | Jan 13, 2020 |
Reminded me a lot of Kitchen House. Similar, but very different. I loved the writing style and story line. However, I’d have liked to have had more insight on Dawn towards the end. I am definitely looking forward to her next book. ( )
  Chelz286 | Aug 26, 2018 |
I listened to this on audiobook.

It is the story of two women in pre- and post-apartheid South Africa, and though the main character, Ada, is the voice of most of the novel, her Irish madame's voice is heard mostly though her journal entries. I don't remember any specific dates being mentioned but the time spans decades, from the time Ada is young through to near the end of her life. The story, told in the first person, really gives voice to what life was like in South Africa at that time, life in the townships, the struggles and indignities, and the stark contrasts between the two worlds. Real historic figures come into play, briefly, in so far as they are mentioned to set the time (Steve Biko, Nelson Mandela), but the story is one woman's story, told in her words and through her own experience.

A recurrent theme throughout is how music heals, even in the worst of times and situations, and how love and education can be a door out of hell but can only go so far, when too much of destiny is not in one's control.

I found this to be a gripping story and I think the narration, in the accents of the 2 excellent narrators, made it all the more so. ( )
  jessibud2 | Feb 28, 2017 |
This novel is set in South Africa; it begins in 1930 but focuses on the apartheid years. Ada Mabuse is the daughter of Miriam, Cathleen Harrington’s black maid; since Ada is born at Cradock House, she thinks of it as her home, especially when Cathleen takes an especial interest in her and even teaches her how to play the piano. When Ada’s mother dies, Ada takes over the position of housemaid. Although she and Cathleen become friends, Ada’s giving birth to a mixed-race child and the policy of apartheid make their friendship difficult.

Narration is in first person with Ada as the narrator, though there are snippets of Cathleen’s diary which give the white woman’s point of view. I wish there had been more of Cathleen’s viewpoint given since it would be interesting to know how she came to be so blind to colour in a society that certainly looked askance at mixing of the races. Is it just her distance from her own family that motivates her to seek friendship with her maidservant and her daughter?

One problem I had with the book is its characterization. The characters are one-dimensional. We always know how everyone will act. The angelic Cathleen will always behave selflessly while the arrogant Rosemary will always be selfish. Edward will be scornful and dismissive, Phil will be patient and kind, Lindiwe will be helpful, and Dawn will be willful. As a consequence, the plot is totally predictable.

Ada, the protagonist, is so naïve as to be unbelievable. Her sheltered life as a child can account somewhat for her lack of world knowledge but surely her mother would have tried to prepare her for the realities of the outside world. She knows about menstruation and sex and pregnancy, yet it is only when she becomes pregnant that she learns about “brown” children: “I had not known that this was how coloured people were made: that black people could be diluted and that white people could be darkened and the result would be a boy who belonged nowhere” (107). Certainly, considering Miriam’s experience with Ada’s father, she would have taught her daughter to be wary of the sexual advances of men. Ada doesn’t even protest when a white man seeks her sexual favours: “When I heard his steps, I would take off my nightdress and lie down on the bed” (102). Even years later, she excuses the man’s behaviour because he was lonely: “When I look back on it now, after many years, I know that it came out of the loneliness” (98).

And Ada’s naivety continues even when she leaves the safe confines of Cradock House. The reader is supposed to see that Ada gradually gains wisdom though she is uneducated. Often she summarizes what she has learned: “war makes you value things and people more than you did when there was Peace” (35); “when it was your own child [who died], the remembering became a torment rather than a comfort” (87); “And trouble taken from one person will surely search for a new lodging” (98); “And I realized that music – and maybe life – depends less on the quality of the instrument or the player than it does on the commitment with which it is played” (228); “I have learnt that the only thing to be gained from past wrongs is the wisdom not to travel the same route again” (243). This wisdom would be more convincing shown in actions, not words, and as an adult Ada still behaves so foolishly that Cathleen thinks a head injury is responsible and she even asks Ada, “’Are you quite well after that fall’” (324)?

There is a lot of needless repetition. At least four times we are told that Dawn’s skin colour is brown like the river: “I should bear a child whose colour falls between the two like the brown water of the Grout Vis” (125 – 126); “the brown water of the Groot Vis – brown like Dawn’s skin” (218); “She had no idea that she fell in between, like the brown water of the Groot Vis” (236); “my child who falls in between, like the brown waters of the Groot Vis” (351).

This book was disappointing. It offers an interesting perspective (the mother of a mixed-race child in apartheid South Africa), but ends up being bland. There is even a vagueness to the book’s examination of apartheid – names like ANC, Mandela and Biko are inserted to remind us of time and place. Ada herself is largely protected by a kind white woman, throughout her life, so her perspective proves to be rather limited. ( )
  Schatje | Apr 22, 2015 |
I don’t know much about the history of South Africa and apartheid. I enjoy books that can bring me into worlds that are new to me; books that can immerse me in a culture alien to anything I already know. The Housemaid’s Daughter is just such a book. It starts albeit very briefly in Ireland as Cathleen gets on a ship to marry her long standing betrothed, Edward Harrington. Cathleen settles into her marriage, has two children and learns to love her new country but she is not as happy as she could be. Her daughter is a willful, selfish child but her son is a sweet, generous boy. Their housemaid Miriam has a child out of wedlock, Ada – named for Cathleen’s sister in Ireland – who soon becomes like another daughter to the house despite the difference in their circumstances. Edward disapproves mightily of Cathleen’s “association” with the black help.

The story is told in two voices – Ada’s and Cathleen’s. The bulk of the tale is Ada’s and it is her voice that really drives the novel. Cathleen’s is heard through passages of her diary which Ada reads as she is cleaning and dusting. It’s a little creepy in all honesty but it allows the second point of view into the story. One of my biggest problems with the book was that Ada’s voice didn’t seem to mature that much over time. She seemed almost as innocent and naive at the end of the story as she was as an adolescent at the onset of the telling.

A depth of development was also a bit lacking for some of the ancillary characters. Cathleen’s daughter Rosemary was an exceedingly one note individual. Edward was also not much beyond a stiff my way or the highway kind of guy. But others were very interesting like Cathleen – she grew as time went on. So did Ada’s friend Lindiwe. The landscape is as much a character in the book as any of the people and Ms. Mutch’s description of Cradock and its environs was so detailed as to make me feel the heat, feel the oppression of the summer, the grit of the sand and the ever changing mood of the river. That was the most powerful part of the book for me.

Despite some issues with character development and such I did enjoy the book. It covered a lot of history and really brushed over the worst of apartheid. The book did not focus overly much on the politics but rather on the people and emotions. It was a pretty fast read despite it’s length. ( )
  BooksCooksLooks | Jan 5, 2015 |
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"When Cathleen Harrington leaves her home in Ireland in 1919 to travel to South Africa, she knows that she does not love the man she is to marry there --her fiance Edward, whom she has not seen for five years. Isolated and estranged in a small town in the harsh Karoo desert, her only real companions are her diary and her housemaid, and later the housemaid's daughter, Ada. When Ada is born, Cathleen recognizes in her someone she can love and respond to in a way that she cannot with her own family. Under Cathleen's tutelage, Ada grows into an accomplished pianist and a reader who cannot resist turning the pages of the diary, discovering the secrets Cathleen sought to hide. As they grow closer, Ada sees new possibilities in front of her--a new horizon. But in one night, everything changes, and Cathleen comes home from a trip to find that Ada has disappeared, scorned by her own community. Cathleen must make a choice: should she conform to society, or search for the girl who has become closer to her than her own daughter? Set against the backdrop of a beautiful, yet divided land, The Housemaid's Daughter is a startling and thought-provoking novel that intricately portrays the drama and heartbreak of two women who rise above cruelty to find love, hope, and redemption"--

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