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The Housemaid's Daughter Paperback – 3 Jan 2013

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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Headline Review (3 Jan. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0755392124
  • ISBN-13: 978-0755392124
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 2.7 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 347,673 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

'If you love last summer's THE HELP, try the HOUSEMAID'S DAUGHTER by Barbara Mutch... The friendship at its centre will leave your singing.' (Good Reads)

'This debut novel has echoes of Kathryn Stockett's THE HELP and is equally compelling... Ada's story is both an enjoyable and a very moving one, told with sensitivity and feeling.' (Welovethisbook.com)

Book Description

A South African THE HELP, THE HOUSEMAID'S DAUGHTER is a startling and thought-provoking debut novel which intricately portrays the drama, dynamics and heartbreak of two women against the backdrop of a beautiful yet divided land.


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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Boselecta on 2 Aug. 2012
Format: Hardcover
This novel offers a really interesting perspective on the apartheid era and how it affected ordinary people, specifically women, on both sides of the huge divide that existed in South African society. Above all though it's a story about the power of friendship to break down those barriers, and the strength of the human spirit in the face of adversity. Whether you have a particular interest in South Africa and that period of history or not, you can't fail to be captivated and moved by this beautiful story. Highly recommended and looking forward to more from this new writer.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By K. Wright VINE VOICE on 26 Oct. 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Ada Mabuse, the Housemaid's daughter, lives with her mother in the kaia at the bottom of the Harrington's garden. Both Ada and her mother Miriam strike up an unlikely friendship with their boss, Madam Cathleen, despite the racial inequality and segregation dividing South Africa during the twentieth century. The book follows Ada throughout the decades from a young girl learning the piano from a white woman to a mother who will do anything to protect her mixed-race child.

Barabara Mutch expertly paints a vivid picture of the dry land of the Karoo, the ever-changing water level of the Groot Vis and the bridge that partitions the people of Cradock by skin colour. She also has crafted a remarkably well-rounded character in Ada who has a keen interest in reading and learning words, is captivated when playing both classical and jazz on the piano and is intent on gaining equal rights with the use of negotiation rather than war. The other characters such as her kind friend Lindiwe, and the Harrington's add to the diversity and depth of South Africa at this time. I would highly recommend this novel and will look out for more from this author in future.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By graybookworm on 2 Aug. 2012
Format: Hardcover
In heart-wrenching detail, the author captures the difficulties facing those divided by apartheid and she provides a vivid and powerful insight into an intensely fraught time in South African history. This is done with such eloquence, such skill and such honesty that I challenge anyone to remain unmoved in its reading. Well worth a read!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Bluecashmere. TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 17 April 2015
Format: Paperback
I think it’s wrong to dismiss this book as lightweight. It is not a major novel but the gentle tone of the narrative stemming from the nature of its heroine, Ada, has sincerity and conviction. Ada feels deeply but she is not given to dramatizing events, so there is little here in the way of fireworks. It is true that the characters, Ada apart, lack complexity. The younger ones in particular are seen very much in black and white terms. Neither is there an overt, and certainly not aggressive, political stance. Nonetheless, humane values shine through and we are made keenly aware of the stage of South African development and unrest at this time. It is not an ambitious work but it presents a well-told story in a credible social setting and makes up in integrity for what it may lack in excitement.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By M. Faulkner on 17 July 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This had a good story line and the characters were promising, however the whole thing lacked depth, complexity and the sense of being fully developed. It was clear this was the author's first novel and she has a way to go before perfecting her craft.
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By elsie purdon TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 18 Nov. 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
While this book didn't really grab me from the start, a little way in the story gains momentum and I was finally fully gripped. It starts with a short prologue, Ireland 1919, "Today I left for Africa" writes one of the main characters Mrs Catherine Harrington. She is the white woman, Madam (now she is married) of Craddock House which is situated in the small town of Craddock, in Karoo a dry semi-desert part of South Africa.
Catherine is married to Edward and they have two children, Phil and Rose. They also have a black maid Miriam who Catherine turns to as a friend.
When Miriam gives birth to her baby (no father) she is named Ada after Catherine's sister back in Ireland.
One of Catherine's great passions is her piano and she teaches the growing Ada how to play beautifully as well as teaching Ada how to read and write.

This story is long and complex. Ada is our witness through the turbulence and cruelties of the coming Apartheid, shown in sharp relief as Ada has her own baby Dawn, a "coloured" child, neither white nor black.

i found the characters the weaker parts of the book in that they seemed over simplified, eg Rose is just horrible and unpleasant as a child and as an adult. Phil is always the opposite. Edward the father is never rounded out. In the beginning of the story I could not believe in the naivety of Ada (did her mother tell her nothing!). Then later Ada is full of strength and wisdom. Don't get me wrong, I loved Ada that way, it was just such a radical change that needed a little suspension of disbelief I thought.

The best parts of the book are the descriptions of the places and the events that take occur. Then I got immersed, caught up and loving the book.
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Format: Kindle Edition
A great deal of the appeal of this beautifully written debut novel lies in the wholly convincing voice of the young black narrator, Ada. Born in 1930 - fatherless, unschooled - she grows up in service to a family of Irish immigrants in the remote town of Cradock on the edge of the Karoo,a semi- desert area of South Africa, itself an intrinsic and mesmeric element of the story, with its starkness, its beauty and the unpredictability of the Great Fish River beautifully evoked in this South African-born author's lyrical prose.

Barred from attending the white school where Cathleen Harrington teaches music, Ada nevertheless gleans an unusually well-rounded education from her liberal thinking "Madam" and her son "Master Phil" with whom she plays from early childhood and whom she idolises. Both treat Ada as one of the family, though she is no more than tolerated by Cathleen's husband, "Master Edward" and their daughter "Miss Siobahn". Madam, disappointed by Siobahn's total disinterest in the piano, directs her passion for music towards Ada, whose latent talent is soon revealed. Barbara Mutch gives us a totally believable picture of the development of a highly talented pianist. There is a good deal of emphasis on Ada's favourite piece of music, Chopin's The Raindrop, that resonates throughout the novel and highlights one of the most dramatic episodes - the flooding of the Great Fish River.

After her mother Miriam's early death, Ada automatically assumes the housekeeping duties at Cradock House. She spends more and more time playing the piano, giving great pleasure to her listeners - even to the dour Master Edward, and apart from sleeping alone in the wooden kaia in the back garden she is otherwise totally integrated into the Harrington family.
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