A story of secrets, love and loss. Set against the violent backdrop of apartheid South Africa and then the calm of late twentieth century Britain, the novel traces the lives of Celia and Miriam – a mother and daughter separated by land, sea and heart-rending circumstance.
A compelling and haunting novel of family, separation and finding one’s place in the world ‘This is the first memory I have of my mamma, the first sweet memory. Sometimes her laughter bursts into my head and I hear her call me – my name full and round in her mouth. Frustratingly though, as with all the memories I have of her, Mamma’s face – always her face – blurs under the pressure of my focus.’
Celia Mphephu works as a maid for Mr and Mrs Steiner in a leafy, white man’s suburb of 1960s Johannesburg. When racial tensions in the country reach fever pitch and the Steiners plan to relocate to England, they offer to adopt Celia’s young daughter and raise her as their own. Separated by land and sea, Miriam finds England to be very different to the place the Steiners have told her about. And so begins her long journey through the years, back to South Africa, to find her mother and herself.