The Maid by Nita Prose
Published by Ballantine Books
Publication date: January 4, 2022
If she were any other type of young woman Molly might find it offensive or funny that her name is commonly associated with cleaning people when she is, in fact, a maid. Molly the Maid. But there’s nothing common about Molly. She’s neurodivergent, so processes information in her unique way. A way that is direct, literal, and singular. For this she has been bullied and teased her entire life, but now as a maid at a fine hotel she feels she’s found her place. Even when she discovers a body in one of her rooms it’s not scary, merely one more task to be handled in order to accomplish her mental directive to “restore every room to a state of perfection!”. In this way, Molly’s story in The Maid unfolds as neatly as the clean towels she leaves behind.
Up until two months ago Molly shared an apartment with her grandmother, who was a housekeeper. The two shared a passion for cleanliness and routine and Gran was Molly’s touchstone—the person who raised her, and not only accepted her just as she is, but helped her in navigating the social cues she doesn’t understand. How to respect people’s space boundaries, to manage the volume of her voice. Along the way she imbued Molly with an old-fashioned etiquette and way of speaking. But Gran died and at 25 Molly has lost her best friend, is trying to make the rent by herself, and deal with unexpected situations that upend her carefully constructed reality.
Molly feels at ease in the world of the Regency Grand. She loves everything about her job, from her maid’s trolley with neatly stacked soaps and towels, to the fact that her uniform waits for her every morning, cleaned and pressed. It allows her to be invisible, yet critical to the hotel’s success. The deceased, Mr. Black, was a regular, along with his glamorous young wife, Giselle. He was loud and rude, but Giselle was kind, acting as if Molly was a friend not a just a maid. Now, the calm order is gone with detectives and questions and people acting strange.
The Maid would be a cozy, whodunit mystery except for Molly’s perspective. She sees the world straight on so, innuendo, word play, white lies, and duplicity are beyond her. There’s nothing cozy about her and for some readers her stilted manner of speaking might grate, but she made me laugh even when unintended. I felt about The Maid the way I do about nice hotels—everything worked the way it was supposed to, it took no effort on my part to enjoy, and left me relaxed. Sometimes, that’s all you need.
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*I received a free copy of this book from Ballantine Books in exchange for an honest review.*