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#BookReview: The Maid’s Room by Fiona Mitchell #MPBooks

The Maid's Room book coverTitle: The Maid’s Room

Author: Fiona Mitchell

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

Genre: Contemporary

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Description: ‘This is where she sleeps. A cupboard. A bedroom. A windowless box.’
Sisters Dolly and Tala have never felt further from home. In the blistering heat of Singapore, they spend their days enabling ex-pats to have lives they could never afford for themselves.
Even though she has little freedom, Dolly can just about live with her job if it means she’s able to support her beloved young daughter back in the Philippines. One day – if she’s lucky – Dolly may even be able to go back and see her.
Tala, however, just can’t keep her mouth shut about the restrictive, archaic rules maids are forced to abide by on pain of deportation. She risks everything to help her fellow maids, who have struggled to have their voices heard for far too long.
In a world where domestic workers are treated so poorly, The Maid’s Room explores how women can come together to change each other’s lives, and be the architects of their own futures.

My Review: Oh wow, this book! Set in modern day Singapore it follows the stories of three women, two of them maids from the Philippines, and shows the reality of daily life for domestic workers in a country where their human rights are often ignored. I was really blown away with this novel that’s both heart breaking at times and so through provoking.

The book begins with a short prologue and then starts with the story of Jules, a British expat who’s moved to Singapore with her husband David. The story immediately shows you the lives from the point of those who employ the maids as Jules visits a party of one her neighbours. The following chapters all alternate between Jules, Dolly who is a maid to the woman who hosted the party and Tala, her older sister who cleans for others. Each of the chapters is cleverly marked at the start with a symbol which shows you whose story we’re now going to follow, for example a small plane denotes it’s Jules’s story.

As the chapters alternate you get a real sense of what life is like for these maids and how they are treated. When the chapters are from Dolly or Tala’s points of view the text refers to their employers as Ma’am and you feel the tension and often dislike or dismissal of them by the employers. In contrast Jules is treated respectfully by her neighbours who become friends however, unlike the others she sees the idea of the maids and the way they act as something alien. Jules’s perspective is very much how most of us would see the life of these Filipina maids and it was good to have this alternate perspective among all the women who treated their maids unfairly.

A lot happens in this novel and I never knew what was coming next. In fact it became more and more gripping the further I read on. I was soon hooked and I just couldn’t put this book down! Jules’s story continues and is a heart breaking one as her and her husband try desperately to conceive during their third round of IVF. Although I enjoyed reading Jules’s story, it’s really Dolly and Tala’s tales that interested me most. There were some funny moments as well as some truly sad and heart breaking ones. Dolly’s treatment in particular really got to me. There were moments you loved reading about her closeness with the children and yet the way she is treated by not only her immediate employer but also by others made me feel both emotional as well as disgusted. I don’t want to reveal any of the plot but even her treatment, right to the end of the novel is shocking. Tala’s story was an interesting one and I enjoyed the way she is so different from her sister. I especially loved the funny moments where, on more than one occasion, her feet or cooking skills were mentioned!

I really enjoyed this novel, the ending is a really satisfying one and made me want to cry happy tears but the reality of the way the domestic workers are treated in Singapore is heart breaking. In this day and age the rights of these poor women, living in bomb shelters (which act as their room) where there are no windows and often no hot water to wash themselves is just appalling. What makes this book all the more shocking and I believe necessary for all to read, is because this is actually happening in today’s Singapore!

The book contains some swearing, use of the f and s words as well as some sex though this isn’t throughout the novel, because of this I wouldn’t recommend this to young teens but mature teens and older. At the back of the novel there are author’s notes and I’d recommend everyone read them after finishing the book as you’ll be surprised with how much the story is based in reality, much of it being the author’s own experience.

This is such a powerful and heart wrenching novel, it takes you on such an emotional journey, and I can’t recommend it enough. I’ve always loved books with cultural issues but this one has really touched me and I think everyone should read it.
-Thanks to Bookbridgr and the publisher for a free proof copy.

Do you enjoy reading books about cultural issues?  What about this book?  Have you read it before?  did you know of the plight of domestic workers in Singapore?  Please let me know all your thoughts I’d love to hear from you. 

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Sad dog

Do You Over-Worry? #MPBooks

Sad dog
A sad dog 😦 – Image from

Yesterday some things happened and as a result I made my friend feel bad over something really silly.  It was nothing I had really done to hurt them.  It was a silly mistake over posting the wrongly worded comment which some other people may have taken the wrong way (I say may as I didn’t think it would have been seen as something bad) but my friend thought differently.  In an effort to save face my friend deleted some of our communications and whike some of our conversations were deleted, others were private and yet others were left publicly in tact.  In the end a lot of our public conversation made no sense.  My friend feels terrible and consequently I feel terrible too.  Nothing has really happened and my friendship hasn’t been damaged (at least I don’t think it has) so everything will be fine…or will it?

For most people the sadness or any guilt they may feel over what happened wouldn’t affect them long term.  But that’s not what traditionally happens with me, or at least not what has happened in the past.

I make it no secret that I have suffered from severe depression and I’d be lying if I still didn’t go into that dark place sometimes.  But I also suffer from anxiety and a specific symptom inhabits me that I’ve been fighting for years.  It’s an overwhelming feeling of worry, often coming from a feeling of guilt.  This guilt is usually unjustified though.  It comes from the place in my mind wired to think the worst. ‘I could have done something else.  Does that person hate me?  I embarrassed myself.  Everyone’s going to hate me’.  These are some of the thoughts that plague my mind.

Thinking in this way is unhealthy and does nothing but make me feel terrible.  Although the guilt everyone feels at some point is natural and a way for us to know we have done something wrong, with some mental health conditions such as anxiety this guilt is accelerated to a level far beyond what it was supposed to be.

For me personally I’ve been through a difficult journey, one I’m still going through if I’m honest.  But I have learned techniques, ways to diminish the guilt I naturally feel.  I don’t always find it easy but these days I take some time away and find ways to replace the ‘guilty’ thoughts with ones that are more sensible such as ‘I could have done something else.  But that person doesn’t hate me.  Maybe I embarrassed myself, but nobody will hate me’.

In my own personal situation with my friend, I know there’s no real guilt to be felt and I hope my friend feels the same.  It was a silly misunderstanding (at least it could be taken as a misunderstanding.  My friend and I don’t have any issue over this ourselves), one that should never have happened, but it’s nothing to feel guilty over.

I decided to write this post as I wanted to share some of the difficulties I face with depression and more importantly anxiety.  It’s not easy to suffer from any form of anxiety.  Many people dismiss anxiety for nothing more than mere ‘fretting’, but for people who have anxiety disorders, the feelings you have, in this case of guilt, are very real.  You are not alone if you feel this way.  And it’s okay to have a bad day when you feel terrible, but it’s important to change those negative thoughts into more positive ones, thoughts that can help move you forward rather than stay stuck.

If you feel this way feel free to share your anxiety problems or any other mental health problems you have if you wish.  Mental health should be something we can freely talk about, so we can stop the prejudice against it and help anyone who may be suffering to feel supported and not alone.

Have you ever felt extreme worry or guilt?  How do you feel about mental health and speaking openly about it?  Please let me know I’d love to hear from you. 

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ps I’m away for a lot of today travelling so my responses may be quite delayed.

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#Poetry: Is This The Final Goodbye? #MentalHealthAwareness #MPBooks

Picture of a sad girl
A sad girl – Image from

This week (8th-14th May) is #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek in the UK and I felt it was time to share something a bit personal with you.  Many of my followers whom I knew from my old blog will already know this but I suffer from depression.  The truth is I have suffered some form of depression since my childhood.  It’s not something that I’m proud to admit, but something which I feel needs sharing as there is a stigma around mental health, especially the mental health of young people, which needs to be addressed.

Many young people, teenagers especially, suffer from depression.  The first time I was officially diagnosed as having depression was as a teenager but the truth is I suffered, a maybe milder, depression since I was a child.  It’s dark to admit this but I didn’t have the best of childhoods.  Some bad things happened in my life and I developed what you could call a ‘sadness’.

While I always try to be what I believe is my true nature – a happy person who always laughs and smiles and enjoys life, the reality is that growing up in circumstances where I didn’t feel I could be carefree and happy, where I couldn’t really be a child, led me to become sad.  Having no real friends at that age didn’t help matters and when diagnosed with a life changing medical condition I became more distanced from kids my age and fell into my own depression.

As a teenager with the pressures that others can put on you, especially if you’re not part of the ‘popular’ group, things just spiralled and I was officially diagnosed at the age of 13 or 14 (I can’t quite remember how old I was).

Living with depression hasn’t been easy and for me the condition came and went.  Inside the ‘real’ me, the bubbly, happy, smiley me, is still here and indeed wants to be the only me in this body, but there’s a darker force that sometimes takes over and pulls a dark curtain over my entire vision.  It’s this back and forth pull between feeling happy and sad that I have written about in the poem below.  It’s not a complete picture of how my depression affects me, but an idea of how it does, and how it can affect others.

Before I end I want to reassure everyone that I didn’t have a completely rotten childhood, I have a lot of happy memories but the sad ones are there too.  Perhaps it explains my sometimes childish/daft nature today – making up for the lost years.

No matter what you may think about mental health, having depression or indeed any other mental illness doesn’t make someone ‘wrong’ or ‘damaged’.  We are all people and anyone in the world can suffer from mental health problems.  A lot of the famous people suffer from some sort of mental illnesses like depression and it’s time to open up our minds to this and see that everyone is the same, and even if someone is suffering from this condition they are just as human and ‘normal’ as the rest of you.

I hope this post will help someone.  Please do share this post and indeed any post about mental health awareness if you feel it would help someone.

And I want to leave you with this thought.  I saw a fantastic pic on twitter today saying this:

Please don’t give up on someone with mental illness.  when the ‘I’ isreplaced by ‘we’ illness becomes wellness

So don’t give up on people, don’t stigmatise them and if you can do nothing else, just be understanding and treat the other person as a fellow human being.  We are all the same, and mental illness is nothing to be feared or ridiculed.

If you are suffering know you are not alone, and I am happy to talk to anyone who may need it 🙂 ❤

Poem: Is This The Final Goodbye?

It began with something simple,
Small piece of heart dissolved.
No more than a word spoken,
Caused pain unresolved.

Every time I try to fix it,
Tell myself I’m better now.
Pretend it didn’t matter,
Get on with life somehow.

But lying will not help it,
The pain it will come back.
The world will turn from colour,
To simple shade of black.

Cannot lift the curtain,
There is no quick release.
All thoughts return to one thing,
My life I wish to cease.

Mistakes I’ve made appear,
Things done and not all plague,
My thoughts all turn to misery,
Anything good seems only vague.

I want this pain to end,
To be the final time.
Don’t want to feel this way again,
Do I sink or do I climb?

Just want it all to finish,
Don’t want a life, be dead.
Imagine all the ways,
My body spread in red.

But small as it is, a part of me,
Can’t let go, wants to holds on.
A truth burried deep inside of me,
Don’t wish to really be gone.

Just want the pain to vanish,
Want a new life, things done right.
So despite the pain I hold on,
I choose to stay and fight.

Hate myself each time I fail,
Feel proud when I’m doing well.
Battle is my own though,
Nobody else can tell.

So now I try to be happy,
To everyone I smile.
But scared the pain will be back,
That I’ll start to taste the bile.

Please do comment, this is a subject we shouldn’t be scared to speak about.  ❤ ❤  You can also find me in these places: 

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