Housegirl – Michael Donkor

Housegirl: A Novel by [Donkor, Michael]


I didn’t like Housegirl as much as I wanted to. Set in Ghana (where I have been), it ticked all the boxes. The sample did too as it depicted Belinda’s life working as a housegirl for a wealthy family.

But, for me, it broke down when the setting moved to London, where Belinda was sent to sort out Amma’s problems. As the story progressed I felt sympathy for Belinda and the young friend she left behind, but didn’t care enough about the other characters and had to force myself to finish the book.

That said the writing is strong with some exquisite phrasing. eg “A loud child was silenced with a sweet that crackled out of its wrapper.”

I believe this book has appeal for others, just didn’t work for me.


Belinda knows how to follow the rules. As a housegirl, she has learned the right way to polish water glasses, to wash and fold a hundred handkerchiefs, and to keep a tight lid on memories of the village she left behind when she came to Kumasi.

Mary is still learning the rules. Eleven-years-old and irrepressible, the young housegirl-in-training is the little sister Belinda never had.

Amma has had enough of the rules. A straight-A student at her exclusive London school, she has always been the pride of her Ghanaian parents—until now. Watching their once-confident teenager grow sullen and wayward, they decide that sensible Belinda is the shining example Amma needs.

So Belinda must leave Mary behind as she is summoned from Ghana to London, where she tries to impose order on her unsettling new world. As summer turns to autumn, Belinda and Amma are surprised to discover common ground. But when the cracks in their defenses open up, the secrets they have both been holding tightly threaten to seep out.


3 comments on “Housegirl – Michael Donkor

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