The Maid – The Literary Salon

     One of the pleasures of staying in a hotel room is someone else cleans up, but do we ever really think about that person?  We may see them moving their trolleys up and down the hallway, and hopefully we leave them a tip, but it’s a job a lot of people take for granted.  It’s hard work, plus, you’d have to like cleaning.   

     Thankfully, Molly, the protagonist in the new bestseller, The Maid, loves her job and takes great pride and enjoyment in returning the rooms at the Regency Hotel to “a state of perfection” as their training program emphasizes. When she happens to clean away some murder evidence which along with her unusual behavior makes her a prime suspect, that provides an interesting premise for a murder mystery.    

Reading is better than spring cleaning…

Here’s the Publisher’s Blurb:

Molly Gray is not like everyone else. She struggles with social skills and misreads the intentions of others. Her gran used to interpret the world for her, codifying it into simple rules that Molly could live by.

Since Gran died a few months ago, twenty-five-year-old Molly has been navigating life’s complexities all by herself. No matter—she throws herself with gusto into her work as a hotel maid. Her unique character, along with her obsessive love of cleaning and proper etiquette, make her an ideal fit for the job. She delights in donning her crisp uniform each morning, stocking her cart with miniature soaps and bottles, and returning guest rooms at the Regency Grand Hotel to a state of perfection.

But Molly’s orderly life is upended the day she enters the suite of the infamous and wealthy Charles Black, only to find it in a state of disarray and Mr. Black himself dead in his bed. Before she knows what’s happening, Molly’s unusual demeanor has the police targeting her as their lead suspect. She quickly finds herself caught in a web of deception, one she has no idea how to untangle. Fortunately for Molly, friends she never knew she had unite with her in a search for clues to what really happened to Mr. Black—but will they be able to find the real killer before it’s too late?

A Clue-like, locked-room mystery and a heartwarming journey of the spirit, The Maid explores what it means to be the same as everyone else and yet entirely different—and reveals that all mysteries can be solved through connection to the human heart.

About the Author: 

Nita Prose is a longtime editor, serving many bestselling authors and their books. She lives in Toronto, Canada, in a house that is only moderately clean.

 As an longtime editor, Nita Prose obviously had publishing connections, but this book is so good and so unique I’m sure it would have been found a home anyway.  I suspect the hotel in the book is based on The Royal York in Toronto, where I have stayed on occasion when work was footing the bill, (it’s handy to Union train station, but when I have to pay, I stay at the pleasant but cheaper Marriott) or it could be any one of those grand old dames with an impressive lobby which pride themselves on style and service.   

Discussion:    I loved everything about this book – the protagonist, the plot-line, the descriptions, the dialogue – it’s just a charming story.  I was already casting it in my head, when I read on Amazon that it is in development as a major motion picture produced by and starring Florence Pugh. I don’t know enough about this English actress to say whether she would suit the role or not, but it’s the kind of quirky movie the British do best.  Hollywood would probably Hollywoodize it, with sexy uniforms and lots of bed-hopping.

One thing to note, this murder mystery has nothing to do with the Netflix series of the same name, which is a totally different story. I haven’t watched it, but believe it deals with the struggles of a single mother working a minimum wage job. I don’t know what the pay is for hotel maids but personal maid services here charge $35/hr with $25 going to the maid, and even home care agencies charge $25 for light housekeeping, but the bigger hotel chains may be closer to minimum wage $15 as they are often staffed by people whose English is a second language. This is addressed in the book, as one of the employees does not have the proper immigration papers and Molly herself has difficulty making her big city rent. (These rates may even have gone up given the low unemployment rate and difficulty in attracting employees.)

Molly is such a memorable character that you can’t help but root for her.  Alone in the world after her grandmother’s death, she is unable to understand or read social cues, and takes everything at face value. The book is written in first person, which I often find annoying, but which works here as we are seeing the world from the point of view of someone whose thinking and behavior would be considered outside of normal. Although the author is very careful not to label her, she is probably somewhere on the spectrum, possibly Asperger’s Syndrome with a good dose of OCD thrown in.  She seems literally clueless when it comes to interpreting other people’s words and actions which leads her into trouble.  (I wonder if people who fall prey to obvious financial scams might be struggling with the same perceptive difficulties.)      

The dialogue is clever, (hence the movie), and the descriptions creative – her nest egg which was stolen is her “Faberge”, her restaurant date was “the Tour of Italy”( which made me want to eat at an Olive Garden, if only we had one here).

The plot was fast-paced, although but I had a small problem with the ending, but understand why it had to happen that way.  Overall, the book was a brilliant debut and also a gentle reminder that there are many “invisible” people in society, whose perceptions of the world may be somewhat different than our own.  

PS.  I use a maid service for my mother’s house, and also occasionally for myself for bigger jobs like windows, as I simply don’t have the energy to keep up two houses.  What I like about them is they send two, occasionally three, people so they are in and out in a couple of hours, so you’re not in their way all afternoon. They do an excellent job, but cleaning houses all day is hard work, so many of them don’t last long, although the head cleaner is always the same. She told me she loves to clean, as did the Molly Maid franchise owner I used before. I’m grateful that some people do…now if I could only find someone who loves ironing. Vacuuming is my second hated task, but give me something to organize and I’m happy.  While I used to enjoy the feeling of satisfaction after cleaning my house from top to bottom, now that I’m older I prefer that someone else return my house to “a state of perfection.”  If only it would stay that way.     

PS. Cleanliness in a hospital is a priority, so I would like to add a note of thanks to the hospital cleaners who have to deal with the COVID-units. I remember the floors in my rural hospital being so clean and shiny you could eat off them.

Do you enjoy cleaning? Any hated household tasks?

34 thoughts on “The Maid – The Literary Salon

  1. annieasksyou says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed the audio version of The Maid, which was read by a woman named Lauren Ambrose. She captured the persona beautifully. Molly is a rich, sympathetic character (I agree about the Asperger’s/OCD). I had some tech issues with the audio, which kept sending me to passages I’d already read.

    Yes, it was a valuable reminder of the invisible people we depend on.

    I wonder whether the author will continue her fiction writing. It will be difficult to create another character as compelling as Molly—unless she becomes a super sleuth and shows up whenever murders appear—a la Jessica Fletcher.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ally Bean says:

    I’ve not heard of this novel and it sounds good, written from a different perspective. I’ll look for it. I remember reading a few Callahan Garrity Mysteries in which the sleuth was a house cleaner, albeit one with good social skills.

    I don’t especially like to clean, but I love the results of cleaning so I do it. Not begrudgingly, exactly. Just reluctantly.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joni says:

      It was very good Ally…..a bit slow the first few pages but then a real page-turner, a truly memorable character. I hope the movie doesn’t ruin it. I used to be able to clean my house from top to bottom in six hours, with a short lunch break, and then I would have a real feeling of satisfaction, because someone else never does it the same, esp. dusting stuff, but I think I had more energy then….now I’m not so fussy and prefer someone else do it.

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  3. Eilene Lyon says:

    I think I did read about this book sometime recently. Glad to know you found it compelling. I like things clean and tidy, but I simply cannot bring myself to hire someone to do it. More work for me (and like Nita, only a moderately clean house).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joni says:

      Yes, I know, it’s hard to spend the money. I didn’t for years, but now I just don’t have as much energy. It’s $105 plus tax for them to clean my mother’s house once a month, but worth it for them to do the bigger jobs like floors and bathrooms and kitchen. I can manage the rest myself. . If I hire them for my house, I just economize on something else. But yes, it is hard to justify paying for something you can do yourself.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Linda Schaub says:

    This sounds like a good book Joni – I wonder if it will be a made-for-Amazon movie then? I used to like, years ago, when there was a different movie on regular TV every night, then the Lifetime movies were good as well. I hate to clean and despise it more as I get older. I look around me and just don’t have the energy to embark on a big cleaning ritual anymore. I will have a spurt or two, then feel “cheated” when it is time to go back to work on Monday. I bought some rug cleaner and intended to use a sponge mop to get the rug clean – it works well on the wall-to-wall carpeting and it isn’t like the weather has been dandy 100% of the time to want to go outside and not do this. At the end of the workweek I’ve had enough … I think if the weather was better and I was walking on a regular basis, I’d be more willing to incorporate more housework into my routine, but I sure don’t feel that way now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joni says:

      I just hope they don’t ruin it with the movie, as the character is so memorable. Casting is everything, so I hope she suits the role. I’ve grown to dislike cleaning, because I think of all the other more enjoyable things I could be doing, and it’s so repetitive. I can quite easily live with dust, and clutter I can pick up, and I ignore the rest and procrastinate. I don’t feel comfortable having people in anyway with the covid stats on the uptick, and there’s always the deck outside when the weather is warmer if that ever happens. Usually by this time of year I’ve sat outside a day or two, but not this year – you’re right – it has been an ugly spring. I had one tall yellow daffodil blooming today, off an old patch, which is weird as all the others are short and shriveled from the cold.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        All those daffodil bulbs you planted and the best is from the old patch – sigh. I have mentioned to some people, maybe you too, that the neighbors across the street, (both now deceased), had perennials in the front and side gardens. They were planted when they moved into their house – they were the first house on the street and this house was built in 1963. She planted Daffodils in the front and Tulips on the side. They had four kids and so flowers were a luxury so she planted perennials. After the house was sold, the new owner (landlord/tenant deal) got a backhoe and took out all the shrubs out front and her Daffodils and she had the Tulips all along the side and when all those early bloomers died, she planted annuals. The backyard was all perennials (daisies/coneflowers). Anyway, they plowed up everything and just have dirt which never made sense to me … so one Daffodil clump comes up every year in the very corner near the steps. It is in bloom now … I have written about it in the past because it continues to thrive and they have no flowers and sure aren’t watering or fertilizing the poor thing. Today was beautiful and I walked at my regular park a mile, then went out to Lake Erie Metropark (30 mils roundtrip). I walked another four miles there and came home and did yardwork. If I don’t like to do housework anymore, I hate doing yardwork and this was cleanup from last Fall – leaves had not fallen and yard waste pickup ended Thanksgiving week and I don’t like to bag and leave them on the back porch. I don’t know what happened to my backyard grass the last few years … very sparse and last year it was moss and when I raked up the leaves, the moss came up and it is mud underneath – no grass! I really don’t know what to do – I had thought in the past of mulch paths around the grass – no grass. I don’t know if it is grubs or what but the front and side grass are fine.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Joni says:

        Throw some grass seed down quick, to take advantage of the spring rains? I haven’t even thought about yardwork, but my grasscutter/gardener will take care of it for me. It was weird re the one solitary daffodil esp. as the stem was so long, but it could be an older heirloom type bulb. All the bulbs I planted last year are barely 4-6 inches high, with a few looking like the yellow buds are there but I wonder why they are so short and stubby, no warm to the spring sun I guess? Even when the sun is out, it’s a chilly wind. Today was okay, warmer anyway, but I had income tax to pick up and errands to run, and went to Reitmans and bought myself 4 pairs of lightweight summer joggers/sweatpants in different colors. Last year I waited and they were out of stock of the summer weight ones, so I got capris instead, so I don’t need any more of those. My winter trackpants will soon be too warm, as we will go straight from cold to too hot. I hate shopping anymore – such ugly clothes and colors out. But they had a 40% off sale on. so the price were good.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        I don’t know what happened to it – it looks awful. For a while I’ve been thinking about getting a mulched pathway back there and low planters boxes and putting flowers in again, but I decided last month to get a whole-house instant-on generator and when that arrives, they will be traipsing around the backyard to install it. There are supply chain issues but I wanted to be in the queue and it won’t be until after June. I looked again this morning when I came home thinking until they are done, I could put tarps back there for them to walk on maybe? The mud they will drag into the basement. I still am considering whether I would be planting perennials again, but I think about the hot Summer, all the torrential rains and don’t want to invest in perennials just to lose them if we have a Polar Vortex like I lost the other ones. It is always something and I told the plumber he could come back and put the handles for the shutoff for the washer/laundry tub in and he was to call the receptionist with the info on how much time he needed and she was to call me. That was two weeks ago – I got their bill and mailed it today and wrote her a note. I booked TruGreen to spray for ants on the perimeter and they haven’t come yet – I haven’t had any ants yet this year (knock on wood) but they haven’t sprayed yet either. Don’t know whether to cancel it or keep it. And have to make arrangements to take the car in for them to fix the AC leak from last year and see if they got the buttons in. Too much little stuff and all the rain has hampered walking/getting some things done. I had to get the phone fixed this morning and pick up some non-perishables (we are having possible severe weather tomorrow night – great). So that cut my walk short unfortunately. I have to switch my clothes to lighter clothes – I was too warm today, but you don’t know what to wear and we may have a wintry mix a couple of mornings next week. You got a good deal on your pants and you have to wear long pants in Summer if your ticks are going to be as bad as ours this Summer.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Joni says:

        Today was a too sudden change – 18 this afternoon and tomorrow worse – I need a more gradual adjustment to hot weather. Sounds like you have a lot of stuff going on. I wouldn’t bother with redoing the back yard, at least until you retire. Unless you enjoy it it’s just too much work, and the summers lately have been too hot. I cut way back last year and just put in lettuce in the garden and bought 4 flowering drought resistant Dipladenia pots and I enjoyed the freedom from it all. Going to Reader now….

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        I really don’t want to do anything with the yard until I am retired … based on what you were dealing with in the yard the last few years, I was not sure I wanted to deal with the big garden anymore … you had drought-like conditions and then rain, rain and more rain. Not sure I want to go through all that again … I loved my perennial garden and butterfly bushes when I had them, but I don’t know if I want to do the expense of them and not til retired for sure. I have been collecting pictures of a mulched pathway and planters boxes and would go that route, but now I have perimeter gardens around the entire yard except the back fence … that is a problem as I have two large firebushes in one corner and a lilac tree and other bushes on the other side. I used to have a shed that sat on the easement, but a few years ago we had 39 mph winds and it blew over and tumbled across the yard. My father never put a rat wall and it was not secured. I had just repainted it (same color as the house siding). So since it is gone, it looks bad and not only that, there were sycamore seeds that were behind the shed. I could not get behind there, so they grew – they are now full-sized trees from seedlings! There is still the cement slabs – maybe 8 of them where the hut stood on. They are crooked and it it looks terrible, but this is on the easement, so that is technically City property and if the City wants to come in and tear it up, it is their prerogative. So I would put another shed there, but would have to cut down those trees … I thought I could put somthing fast growing like arborvitae. But the trees have to go. When I had the flickering lights issue a month or so ago, DTE said the those two trees need to be trimmed as they are touching the wires … I said they were seeds only that grew up. I wonder if I should just cut them down, but that’s more money. Sigh. Today I cancelled TruGreen for the pesticide spray … I don’t have ants yet and the first spray is not until 04/24 … the ants are usually here by the end of March. They had already told me more ants and creepy crawlies would likely come in initially – I really don’t want that and I really don’t want pesticide spray either. So I contracted with them back on March 8th and cancelled today … I really don’t want to handle anything that’s been sprayed. That’s how I feel inside the garage. We were sprayed in there and he sprayed up/down the walls. It was a strong Diazinon spray. So I cancelled that and I’ll live with the ants (but likely whine about it). I just worry about all the mud coming into the house when they do the generator. I am wondering if I buy tarps and leave them out there while they work if that would help … the tree cutters at least won’t be coming into the house.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        Yes, I hope that happens Joni. The day I had the whole-house insulation it rained five minutes after they got there. They had to drill holes all around the house for “puffing in” the insulation. I asked if they don’t wait until it stops raining and they looked at me like I’d lost my mind. I’ve actually not had any lengthy power outages for a while, so that has kept me reluctant to do this, but other areas have had repeated power outages. I could deal with a power outage in Summer (though uncomfortable) and even in Fall or Spring, but my worry was Winter, not only for myself but for the pipes. I have no one I could stay with and believe me, when we had long-lasting power outages in the past, hotel rooms were impossible to find. The only two people I know that I’d dream of imposing on – one is Sandy down the street (she’d likely lose power too) and Ann Marie, who lives in a neighboring city, but I really couldn’t ask her and she told me she grocery shops every other day as she has no room in her house to buy in bulk. So, not going to ask her either. In the dead of Winter and with no heat, the pipes would freeze, even running the water day and night with a gas water heater. I really don’t want it to be honest, but the weather is just getting to be too erratic anymore. You are likely having what we are getting overnight, the 60 mph straight-line winds – that is worrisome as to damage and the big trees in the neighborhood and the soggy grounds from the rain we had all afternoon, coupled with the wind.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Joni says:

        It was a dreadful day – rainy and windy. Took mom to the chiropodist this afternoon and could feel the car swaying on the road. At least it wasn’t snow like the prairies out west. Temps back down for the weekend again. April so far has been disappointing, although I do have two clumps of daffodils out they are very stunted. Do you have time off Friday or Monday for Easter?

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      • Linda Schaub says:

        I hate this weather and can’t seem to gain traction with the walking and have thought I’d walk after work but so many afternoons it is either raining or windy or something else. I’ve not seen much in flowers around here – even crocuses, just the snow drops and that was a good six weeks ago and took pictures of them. Our trees have not even leaved out yet! They do not celebrate Easter Monday and I don’t even think it is mandatory to give time off (even the two hours that used to be required to go to church). Before Robb/I left the Firm, there was no time off, but I always took off Good Friday and Easter Monday. I’d like to have Monday off … he was supposed to have cataract surgery next Wednesday, the 20th and now said he is unsure he wants to do it (though he has gone thru all the pre-op requirements/appointments), so if it is not happening, I think I will do Monday off. At the beginning of the year I intended to take one day off a month – ask me if that has happened yet?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Joni says:

        I had two more clumps of daffodils out today, swaying in the 70kim/hr wind, but not quite the display I had imagined last fall? Also, two hyacinths popped out planted over ten years ago. These are on the south sun side of the house. I haven’t noticed any trees leaving out either. Today was very windy again, and the temp dropped. Will answer your email later. Why would he cancel the surgery after going through all the preop stuff – it’s not like it’s going to go away, it will get worse. He must just have the jitters? From what I’ve heard, you’re barely awake during it anyway depending on the set-up. Easter Monday is only a holiday for banks and government employees, and a few union groups, no one else. I’m not sure if the grocery stores are closed Friday or Sunday, they usually just chose one and open the other.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        My father planted tulips when we first moved here and the squirrels dug up all the bulbs and my father found them all over the yard when he did yard clean-up in the Spring. The missed one bulb and it came up underneath a locust tree for years. We cut the tree down when we got carpenter ants and the tulip finally was gone. I had a Miss Kim Lilac Bush planted in the 90s and it bloomed last year for the first time last year. They said we are in for a very hot and humid Summer and the Great Lakes will have a lot of algae bloom especially Lake Erie. I see that when I am at the metropark. Our highest wind gusts were 51 mph but most were in the 40 mph range. Luckily no loss of power – lots of power outages though. I thought everyone probably got off this holiday as 3 1/2 days, maybe 4 days.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Dave says:

    Intriguing lead character, Joni. I’m guessing this story wouldn’t have been a story at all if not for her “quirks”. I’ll keep this book in mind since I always find your reviews to be fair and honest. When you expressed concern about the upcoming movie interpretation, I thought of “The Woman in the Window”. Amy Adams is one of my favorite actresses (and a fellow Coloradoan) but the movie had a wholly different feel than the book. I’m sure it made plenty of money regardless. Never heard of Florence Pugh either but she’s just getting going with her career. Finally, “Tour of Italy” brought a smile. It was my son’s favorite entree at Olive Garden when he was younger. I think he liked the idea of getting three dinners for the price of one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joni says:

      Oh it’s definitely her quirks that make her memorable. The dialogue is so cleverly done that I could see it as a movie, I just hope they don’t ruin it. I read The Woman in the Window but have not seen the movie. Recently I’ve been reading my way through The Grantchester novels, having watched the PBS series first this winter, and the novels are quite different. The mysteries themselves are somewhat similar and pertain to some of the tv episodes but the love interest part was changed, not necessarily to the detriment, just different. That’s one of the few times I have watched the tv/movie and then read the book. I also watched the miniseries Anxious People on Netflix but not having read the book am not sure how it translates, but I just could not get into that book, despite having loved A Man Called Ove. I wish we had an Olive Garden here. I’ve never eaten in one, although I think there is one in Toronto. We used to have Red Lobster close by, but it closed decades ago. Two US restaurants I like….and I’ve never eaten at Appleby’s either. I clearly need to visit the US!

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  6. Arlene Somerton Smith says:

    That book is on my list, but I’ve got a few books to get through before I can get to it. As for cleaning? I admire others who enjoy cleaning. I enjoy a clean house – once it’s done. The experience of it though? Not my thing. It requires music and a lot of motivational talk.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. J P says:

    I am not likely to find time for the book but look forward to seeing the movie, as it sounds like an interesting story.

    It’s great to come across one of those stories that really stands apart from the norm. Most fiction, whether in print or film, is just a variation on an old familiar plot. Very rare is that story that is truly unique, and it seems that you have found one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joni says:

      Such a memorable character, the author will find it difficult to top that one, unless she does a sequel? I hope they don’t ruin it with the movie. I don’t know if you ever watched Doc Martin when it was on Masterpiece PBS TV, he was a doctor in a small British village and had Asperger’s Syndrome. I think there were 8 seasons. That’s the kind of quirky adaption it needs.

      Liked by 1 person

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