Maid Molly will steal your heart, break it, and put it back together again in this sleeper hit book, soon to be a movie starring Florence Pugh. (The movie will release sometime in 2024.)
As a book influencer, I can always tell when publishers are extra excited about a book release. In the case of The Maid, a debut novel by Canadian editor Nita Prose, my fellow book influencers and I were sent two copies in advance of the release – one for ourselves and one for a friend, a sure sign publishers are investing heavily in pushing a book.
Though the glossy scarlet and black cover left me cold, I decided to delve in anyway to see what all the fuss was about. By the second chapter, I had found and followed the author on Instagram, and I knew it had a shot at being my favorite book of 2022 (the paperback version was released in early 2023). Update: It was my favorite book of 2022!
Molly Gray is a heroine who seems all alone in this world, at least at the outset of the book. Her beloved Gran – her “person” – has died, leaving Molly to fend for herself in a society that doesn’t value or understand her. Though it is never explicitly stated, Molly is likely neurodivergent, someone who struggles in social situations and doesn’t pick up on the usual social clues.
But she adores her work as a maid at a posh boutique establishment, The Regency Grand Hotel, where she is thrilled to wear her crisp uniform as she vacuums, sweeps, wipes, and restores order to the hotel’s luxurious rooms. (This instantly endeared her to me – a hotel maid who can’t wait to go to work every day? What a rare gem!)
But when she enters the room of a long-term guest, the super rich Charles Black, she finds him dead in his bed. Soon forces converge to pin the murder on her, a young woman, after all, who can be easily taken advantage of or used as a scapegoat. Molly is discombobulated about what to do and who to trust, but friends she didn’t know she had gather around to help her, forming the community and acceptance she has always longed for. But will Molly and her friends solve the mystery of whodunnit before it’s too late? One thing is for sure, the murderer has to be someone affiliated with the hotel, but who?
A winsome blend of Agatha Christie’s locked room mysteries and the 2017 runaway bestseller Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, about another social misfit, The Maid is for readers who love to root for underdog characters, and who enjoy cozy mysteries with cheeky humor and big hearts.
Content wise, The Maid has maybe one or two instances of profanity and any romantic situations are strictly “closed door,” making it quite a mild read for a mainstream book.
Christian readers will see in Molly a character who works hard at her menial job, a job many would feel is beneath them. She leaves each room better than she found it, which gives her satisfaction and joy. Readers will be reminded that God made each person in his image, and regards each person – social misfit or not – with the same love and value. Because of this example, we can love and value “the least of these” and begin to look at people whom society deems unimportant through the eyes of grace and truth. Seeing real people through fictional Molly’s eyes, I will never looked at hotel maids the same way again. The Mystery Guest, Prose’s sequel to The Maid, releases November 28, 2023. (Penguin Random House)