Saturday, 4 July 2015
American Independence Day - yee-ha!
From Wisconsin to Florida, from Georgia to California... everyone's celebrating the Fourth of July!
And, in the spirit of celebration, I'd like to say thank you to so many US readers for their response to The Housemaid's Daughter.
It doesn't seem to matter where you live - or, indeed, whether you've ever been to Africa or not - the story of Ada and Cath has touched many folk. Lots of readers have also told me that the book has gone one further: it's taught them a slice of history they haven't known. We all understand the backstory of our own country and what has shaped it, but despite living in an inter-connected world with television coverage reaching into its furthest corners, we're often ignorant about the background to the places we watch on the screen. Books can help to bridge that gap.
I was hoping to be able to tell my fictional story while simultaneously reflecting the historic journey of South Africa over a period of sixty years from the 1930s to the end of the 80s. It's a time that I lived through (almost all of it!) and I felt there were aspects that I could incorporate into the book which would give readers a sense of the reality on the ground - and perhaps echoes from their own country. I didn't want the politics to overwhelm the story, but rather to make its point more subtly - through the reactions of the characters to the events that befall them.
"A history that I was not too familiar with, and characters you grow to care about.
I want my daughters to read this some day."
And it's interesting - and sad - to reflect that Ada and Cath would recognise many of the the divisions and difficulties that continue to play out today, in many parts of the world. Perhaps that's why the story still resonates...