‘Always in the Dark’ by Diane Harding – a Haunting Memoir of Growing Up, Unbeknown to Her, in a Menage a Trois

This is not an easy read – the pain of the author is tangible – but it is a haunting memoir of a childhood mystery that unfolded painfully and finally with a devastating understanding about the shocking truth of her life.

Diane Berry was an English schoolgirl growing up in the leafy streets of suburban Cape Town in the 1950s. Her father, Victor, worked for Cadbury’s but he was anything but a sweet man. He went out ahead of his wife, Blanche, to find a home in Cape Town. Soon after their daughter, Diane was born but her idyllic childhood was ruined when she and her mother returned from a holiday in England to discover Connie his mistress already installed.

For the sake of her daughter, Blanche accepted the fait accompli with pain and forbearance and then followed 19 years of living a lie. Diane had no idea that her godmother who lived with them was her father’s lover until she was much older and living in England.

This book of surviving in the face of pain and suffering, is a book about courage, of putting others first; and it’s opposite- cruelty by her father and his mistress who shared a small intimate space with the mother of a young girl perfectly able to ignore her pain.

The neighbours were as much in the dark as was Diane. They believed that the second woman was a friend, an auntie a long-term visitor; they had no idea of what was going on under their noses.

At a time when the huge issue of domestic abuse is taking centre stage for much overdue political and legal action, this book is a timely reminder of the everyday nature of evil.