Cathleen Harrington leaves her home in Ireland in 1919 to travel to South Africa and marry the fiancé she has not seen for five years. Isolated and estranged in a harsh landscape, she finds solace in her diary and the friendship of her housemaid's daughter, Ada. Cathleen recognises in her someone she can love and respond to in a way that she cannot with her own husband and daughter. 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.
When Ada is compromised and finds she is expecting a mixed-race child, she flees her home, determined to spare Cathleen the knowledge of her betrayal, and the disgrace that would descend upon the family. Scorned within her own community, Ada is forced to carve a life for herself, her child, and her music. But Cathleen still believes in Ada, and risks the constraints of apartheid to search for her and persuade her to return with her daughter. Beyond the cruelty, there is love, hope - and redemption.
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I was captured in this world.
Conflicted - lots of good bits but let down
Maybe - especially Lisa
Maybe - depends on the topic
Lisa has a beautiful voice and reads incredibly well. Unfortunately she doesn't know how to pronounce some of the words, and that jarred with me. Not her fault. Probably not many people would be bothered but if you know how these words should be pronounced you cringe a lot. Koppie is said with a short o: Ko'ppie, not copey
No one - the author is very disciplined with respect to her characters. I do wish she had given them more depth though. Some, like Ada and Cathleen, we get to know well. Others are cardboard like- two dimensional. I would have liked to get into Edward's head a bit. Also - the Auntie is just horrible - no redeeming features. I've not met many people like that. Most people are horrible to their own benefit - they treat people badly to get a benefit for themselves. Being horrible for no good reason isn't realistic.
I liked the first half of the book - it was realistic enough and enjoyable and the writing is evocative of a part of the world I know well. Then it went past the realms of realism. Ada was so perfect, so wonderful, so unbelievable. I also felt that the world in this book was rather black and while:Phil was good, Rosie bad, Cathleen good, Edward bad, Auntie bad, Lindiwe good. Unfortunately, this book makes Ada a saint, and her mother too, and in real life I have never met a saint. Everyone has flaws, everyone is human.I'd like to have seen her do something for her own benefit just for once