Barbara Mutch’s stunning first novel tells a story of love and duty colliding on the arid plains of Apartheid-era South Africa
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.
BARBARA MUTCH was born and raised in South Africa, the granddaughter of Irish immigrants. She is married with two sons and divides her time between Cape Town and London.
“If you loved The Help, try The Housemaid’s Daughter…The friendship at its center will leave your heart singing.” — Good Housekeeping UK
“A shared love of the piano brings two women together across the racial divide of apartheid South Africa in Mutch’s debut novel…her setting is a fascinating one, and she does an excellent job of showing the horrifying effects of apartheid law on individual lives…Readers who loved Kathryn Stockett’s The Help may also appreciate this historical tale of female friendship across racial lines…”
“Mutch’s sprawling debut spans five decades of South Africa’s richest—and most painful—history…a vividly drawn setting and Ada’s consistent, special voice drive the story and keep the pages turning.”
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