original | uplifting | immersive
what it says on the cover …
I am your maid. I know so much about you. But what do you know about me?
Molly the Maid is all alone in the world. A nobody. She’s used to being invisible in her job at the Regency Grand Hotel, plumping pillows and wiping away the grime, dust and secrets of the guests who pass through. She’s just a maid – why should anyone take notice?
But Molly is thrown into the spotlight when she discovers an infamous guest, Mr Black, very dead in his bed. This isn’t a mess that can be easily cleaned up. And so Molly becomes embroiled in a hunt for the truth, learning who to trust as she navigates the secret underbelly of the Regency Grand Hotel.
Escapist, charming, and introducing a truly original heroine, The Maid is a story about how everyone deserves to be seen, and how the truth isn’t always black and white – it’s often found in the dirtier, grey areas in between…
PUBLISHED: 20th January 2022
SHELF: Mystery | Thriller | Fiction
AUTHOR: Nita Prose
PUBLISHER: HarperCollins UK | HarperFiction
FORMATS: Hardback | Kindle | AudioBook
Thank you to @HarperFiction / @HarperCollinsUK and #NetGalley for this advance-proof kindle copy of #TheMaid by @NitaProse
my review …
Set in the polished opulence of the five star boutique Regency Grand Hotel, The Maid is a cosy murder mystery with an original spin. Whilst this book won’t be hitting the shelves until January 2022, Hollywood bigwigs have already fallen in love with this remarkable debut novel, with Universal Studios snapping up the rights to make its movie. Definitely exciting news, but … always the purest … I urge you to read the book first.
I am your maid. I’m the one who cleans your hotel room, who enters like a phantom when you’re out gallivanting for the day, no care at all about what you’ve left behind, the mess, or what I might see when you’re gone.
When I’m done with my work, I leave your room pristine. Your polished mirror reflects your face of innocence back at you. It’s as though all of your filth, all of your lies and deceits, have been erased.
I am your maid. I know so much about you. But when it comes down to it: what is it that you know about me?
The choice of setting means we’re treated to an array of characters who bring varying shades of light and dark to the plot. There are those who will make your hackles rise … plenty of those as it happens … some of whom work at the hotel, some of whom are guests who also bring their own shades of grey to story. And then there are those such as Mr Preston, the hotel’s portly doorman, who is exactly the kind of gentleman you want in your corner when you’re in a pickle. Good eggs and bad eggs. That’s how the book’s leading lady, Molly Gray, distinguishes between the people she meets; just one of the many maxims passed down to her from her beloved, late Grandmother.
Molly is a triumph of literary characterisation; I’m not ashamed to say I’m absolutely in her thrall. Somewhere on the autism spectrum, she’s unable to read facial expressions, painfully awkward in social situations, grieving, and devastatingly lonely. But there’s an unmistakable steeliness to her that wholly over-rides any feelings of pity I might have allowed to creep in. Oh no, Molly deserves far more from her readers than that … she’s a mighty character, someone to respect and enjoy for her nonconformist charms. And when she overhears other members of hotel staff whispering about her behind their hands, bestowing cruel nicknames on her, I defy any reader not to mentally roll up your sleeves and glare furiously at them.
The Maid is narrated entirely by Molly, and her distinctive prose imbues the story with a glossy golden-age whodunnit vibe … we have her Grandmother to thank for that, raising Molly with beautifully traditional good manners, not to mention their shared penchant for old Colombo crime dramas. Her candid nature frames a sensitive account of the world through the eyes of a vulnerable young woman; as the reader we experience the sting of jibes by those who don’t take the time to understand her, the conflicting feelings she experiences at her invisibility, the immense pride she takes in her work, her rigidly structured mindset … it’s disorientating and at times upsetting, and startlingly enlightening.
It’s easier than you’d ever think—existing in plain sight while remaining largely invisible. That’s what I’ve learned from being a maid. You can be so important, so crucial to the fabric of things and yet be entirely overlooked. It’s a truth that applies to maids, and to others as well, so it seems. It’s a truth that cuts close to the bone.
In creating such a nuanced lead character, the author uses the actions of others – sometimes dastardly, often manipulatively, occasionally kindly – to incite strong emotional reactions from her readers. The ebb and flow of the plot places Molly in situations that you’re powerless to guide her away from, and into others that are the written-word equivalent of the most comforting hug you’ll ever have. Because, as I mentioned earlier, there are shades of dark and light to this story and whilst Molly finds herself in the trickiest of pickles, she also discovers the joy of true friendship.
Part murder-mystery, part romance, part social commentary, The Maid is a book with a moral or two to tell, as well as being a cracking good read.
Nita Prose is a long-time editor, serving many bestselling authors and their books. She lives in Toronto, Canada, in a house that is only moderately clean. Currently, she’s vice president and editorial director at Simon & Schuster, where she has the privilege of working with an incredible array of authors and publishing colleagues whom she credits with teaching her, manuscript by manuscript, book by book, the wondrous craft of writing.
When she’s not lost in books and writing, Nita loves gardening and salsa dancing. But not at the same time.
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