i have just finished reading ‘The Housemaid’s Daughter’ by Barbara Mutch which i pretty much sped through [thanks to some exam invigilating giving me free paid-for reading time] and having just finished ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie it was a very different read. But it really did suck me in through the strong relationships it depicted in particular. It basically tells the story of the friendship between an Irish woman, Cathleen Harrington, who gets married and moves to Cradock in South Africa and how she finds solace from life and family challenges through her diary and friendship with her housemaid’s daughter, Ada.

Seeing the author’s face on the back cover [Barbara Mutch is the granddaughter of Irish immigrants but was born and raised in South Africa] i was super skeptical following on from the incredible Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, but what possibly won me over was that both books were lent to me by the same person, which is a clear endorsement, and i was not disappointed.

Instead of giving much more of a book review, i simply want to share three passages, the first two dealing with words and their power and the third which had one of the most gut-punching sentences from the whole book.

= = = = = = = = = = =

‘Lindiwe does not feel targeted herself, because those that set fire to things do so randomly, but she does not like to dwell upon it. And she speaks of Jake only when asking me to check the newspapers for his name where they write about arrests and protests and the new word, terrorism.

I remember when apartheid was a new word.

It seems to me that words can give birth to other words that might never have come about on their own. This new word has been born out of apartheid. These burned huts and dead children and streaming eyes have been born out of apartheid.’

= = = = = = = = = =

‘It was also no ordinary thing because at the time of the invitation the laws of skin difference were at their most fierce, and the dead of Sharpeville lay like a weight between black and white. Different skins were not allowed in the same place at the same time, particularly if they were enjoying themselves. The law insisted that such enjoyment should be had at separate skin-matching venues. Whites should have fun with whites, blacks should have fun with blacks, and so on. I’m not sure how Mrs Cath and her school managed to get past this but somehow they did.

I think it was a matter of finding the right words. Words can be persuaded to take on meanings that you don’t expect. Words can even outwit those who believe they own all their possible meanings.

= = = = = = = = = =

‘You’re a member of a banned organisation – verdomde ANC.’

”No, sir, I belong to no organisation. I am a schoolteacher. I did what I did on my own.’

‘You want to bring down the country. They gave you orders to cause trouble.’ Still he spoke towards the table and the file before him, like others have done when they were unwilling to meet my eyes. They do it to show their disdain, but to me it speaks of cowardice.

I looked at him, his uniform surely ironed by black hands, and I felt the anger build. Why is it that even when we’re hated so much, we’re still so useful?’

= = = = = = = = = =

i would highly recommend this, but would also suggest trying to get hold of ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ if you haven’t read that and reading the two as companion pieces – the mix of flavours was highly sophisticated on the paleate… or something.


By |2018-06-12T09:55:48+00:00June 12th, 2018|inspire-ations, what i am reading|0 Comments

About the Author:

Brett Fish is a lover of life, God, tbV [the beautiful Valerie] and owns the world's most famous stuffed dolphin, No_bob (who doesn't bob). He believes that we are all responsible for making the world a significantly better place for everyone.

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