Ugandan Mary Tendo worked for many years in the white middle-class Henman household in London, cleaning for Vanessa and looking after her only child, Justin. More than ten years after Mary has left, Justin — now twenty-two, handsome and gifted — is too depressed to get out of bed. To his mother’s surprise, he asks for Mary.
When Mary responds to Vanessa’s cry for help and returns from Uganda to look after Justin, the balance of power in the house shifts dramatically. Both women’s lives change irrevocably as tensions build towards a startling climax on a snowbound motorway.
Maggie Gee confronts racism and class conflict with humour and tenderness in this engrossing read.
About the Author
Maggie Gee is the author of twelve acclaimed novels, including The White Family (shortlisted for the Orange and IMPAC prizes), My Cleaner and a memoir, My Animal Life. She is a Fellow and Vice-President of the Royal Society of Literature, and Professor of Creative Writing at Bath Spa University. Her work has been translated into fourteen languages. Maggie Gee was awarded an OBE in 2012 for her services to literature.
'[A] beautifully observed, intelligent and moving novel' The Scotsman 'Darkly comic' Guardian
'Like Margaret Atwood, Maggie Gee has always been prepared to tackle contemporary ideas on a grand as well as a domestic scale ... Her prose is rich and gossipy; it mixes the highbrow with the vernacular, and is, at times, shockingly cynical ... My Cleaner is a moving, funny, engrossing book.' Observer
'My Cleaner is both simple and subtle. It is structured around an elegant juxtaposition of the inner lives of two opposites: its texture comes from the blunt repetition of their ungenerous thoughts, punctuated by occasional gusts of provisional warmth.'
'Gee satirises the liberal conscience of the chattering classes with uncomfortable perception in this hugely enjoyable novel ... her portrayal of Britain's new underclass of immigrant workers is presented with her trademark stinging clarity.'
'Maggie Gee is a superb and pitiless analyser of middle-class angst. Elegant, humorous and surprising, this is a classy performance.'
'An intelligent and satisfying read.'
'My Cleaner is a rich and humane domestic comedy, narrated in turn by two brilliantly-observed characters ... An engrossing and funny story about two women learning to live with each other again.'
'Maggie Gee's indomitable women jostle for position on the page ... this is one of those rare books you want to begin again instantly, safe in the knowledge that it is quietly wonderful.'