My very last book of 2013 was The Housemaid’s Daughter by Barbara Mutch. This was an appropriate way to end the year for a couple reasons.
First, the book mostly takes place during the apartheid era in South Africa and, as odd as it may sound to say, the recent death of Nelson Mandela made the story come alive even more. The book is fiction, of course, but it’s obvious that Mutch knows what she’s talking about and I feel more informed for having read the book. I have always believed that the best way to learn something, to really appreciate it, is to see it something meant for entertainment and be moved enough to research more. This book absolutely accomplished that for me.
Second, I won a copy of this book through the Goodreads First Reads giveaway program back in October, I think. Early October. I tried to get into the book three times over the next two months but failed every time. If there’s one thing I hate, it’s giving up on a book so I tucked it away on a shelf with the intention to come back later. I don’t know if it was because of Mandela’s death, because it had registered that the story takes place in South Africa, or simply because I wanted something new and relatively easy to read after Christmas, but I picked it up again.
And I am so glad I did.
It was time for me to truly appreciate the brilliance that is The Housemaid’s Daughter.
And it wasn’t really “easy” to read either, even if I did finish it in three days flat.
I hoped, I dreamed, I laughed, I cried with Ada Mabuse.
When she was too young, too naive to know she loved the white son of her Master and Madam… I wanted her to spend happily ever after with Phil.
When she nursed Phil after his World War II injuries, when she gave him her life… I cried because I knew it wouldn’t end well.
When Phil’s father, Ada’s Master, takes advantage of her while his wife’s away… I wanted him to burn in hell.
When Ada flees with her unborn child rather than disappoint her Madam… I wanted to protect her.
When she puts herself and her daughter before absolutely everything else… I wanted to stand by her side.
This book gives me hope for humanity. If there are really people like Ada Mabuse, even if she is fictional, we’ll be okay.