The Housemaid's Daughter

The Housemaid's Daughter

Book - 2013
Average Rating:
Rate this:
"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"-- Provided by publisher
Publisher: New York : St. Martin's Press, 2013
Edition: First U.S. edition
ISBN: 9781250016300
Branch Call Number: FIC Mutc
Characteristics: 401 pages ; 25 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Aug 15, 2016


May 12, 2016

Enjoyed this story told mainly from the point of view of the housemaid's daughter Ada. It begins before Apartheid and closes at the end of that era in South Africa.

cmlibrary_anickerson Jan 31, 2016

Ada becomes like a daughter to Catherine despite the differences in their "skin" and she shares with Ada her love of music, a gift that gives Ada a future that would have been impossible for her. Their relationship weathers the storm of the apartheid movement and we see how their strength of character and love for each other overcome the historical events and tragedies that result. A captivating and touching read.

Mar 17, 2015

A novel that reads effortlessly, beautifully. Ada becomes a strong woman that eventually survives all despite no end of opportunities for her life to run off the rails. It is a story of (unromantic) love & loyalty in the midst of the violence of 20th century South Africa. I cried too, and could hardly put it down.

Jun 20, 2014

This novel was much more than I thought it would be. I did not expect to me moved to tears so many times reading this well written novel. This is not a summer beach read, as all your friends will wonder why you are crying, but it did open my eyes and make me look up more of the events that occurred in the apartheid years in South Africa.

Jane60201 Feb 06, 2014

Historical fiction "lite". There are better books about this period of history.

Mar 21, 2013

This novel made me cry. i loved the way it was written because it gave me a clear picture of that part of South Africa and exactly what was going on during that time. This i s a good read.

LaughingOne Jan 07, 2013

This novel carries us from 1919 to 1961 or so in a town in South Africa, focusing on one family - Master, Madam, son and daughter - and their maid (handmaid) and her daughter (and her daugher). It is written mostly from the perspective of Ada, the handmaid's daughter, but also has diary notes of Madam, showing the same events from different views. The story caught me up and carried me along through drought, war, racism, unexpected kindnesses, illness and death, birth and the issues of different skin colours and, finally apartheid. Ada is a young black woman who is nurtured by her mother and the white Madam, learns to read and write, to play the piano, and to have convictions that she holds to with integrity and dignity. This book is an inside look at life in a country that deals with skin colour differences in pretty extreme ways. Well worth reading.

ontherideau Dec 22, 2012

A story of apartheid in South Africa. Recc for readers who like Book of Negroes, The Help or the movie Skin by director Anthony Fabian.


Add Age Suitability
Mar 21, 2013

Tziporah_Vee thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over


Add a Quote
Mar 21, 2013

I have never sought to be well known. I have preferred the shadows ever since my sin of lying with a white man - and the shame that walks with me every day because of it. (page 337)


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Subject Headings


Find it at CHPL

To Top