The Maid by Nita Prose: A review

 

"I love cleaning. I love my maid's trolley, and I love my uniform," so speaks Molly the maid in Nita Prose's debut novel, The Maid. Molly is the first-person narrator of the novel and what a wonderful narrator she is. We are able to fully enter her world as a maid at the Regency Grand five-star boutique hotel where she cleans twenty-plus rooms every day. "I like things simple and neat," says Molly. "Never in my life did I think I'd hold such a lofty position in a grand hotel."

From these quotes, you might gather that Molly has a rather simplistic view of the world and that is accurate. She is devoted to her work and was devoted to her grandmother who raised her and who was also a maid. But when we meet Molly, her grandmother had died nine months before, leaving her alone in the world. She no longer has anyone to interpret the meaning of social interactions for her and Molly badly needs that. She is very "different," possibly on the Autism spectrum although that is never stated. She admits to us at one point that she has trouble in social situations because "it's as though everyone is playing an elaborate game with complex rules they all know, but I'm playing for the first time." Perhaps we've all been in situations at one time or another in our lives where we felt like that. In other words, though Molly sees the world through her own different and simplistic lens, she is a very relatable character.

Molly's life continues on its well-established course of going to work every day. Work is her respite from a confusing world. She is not totally without friends. Mr. Preston, the doorman at the hotel, actually knew her grandmother and he tries to look out for Molly and help her negotiate the sometimes confusing demands of the world. His friendship will become especially important when Molly finds the body of a guest, Mr. Black, dead on his bed when she went to clean his room. And it was not a death from natural causes; Mr. Black was murdered. 

When Molly had first gone to clean the room, Mrs. Black was in the shower and so her cleaning and her discovery of the body were delayed. Since she is unable to interpret social interactions, she never makes any connection between those two facts. She also seriously misinterprets the actions of the hotel's head bartender, Rodney Stiles, on whom she has a crush. When she does discover the body and reports it, once again she is unable to understand what is required of her or why the police would find it strange that she is so eager to get back to her cleaning. Her behavior is seen as suspicious and soon she finds herself as the prime suspect in the murder. That's when Mr. Preston and his daughter, Charlotte, who is a lawyer, come to Molly's rescue.

Of course, we know that Molly didn't kill anybody and we may be able to suss out pretty quickly who did, but Molly doesn't because she doesn't pick up on cues and this novel is really about her and not so much the mystery of the murder. Molly always takes things at face value. She isn't able to interpret, but taking things at face value actually turns out to be one of her strengths and it ultimately allows her to assist the police in their inquiries and to catch a killer.

Nita Prose never indicates where the Regency Grand is located, but the novel - especially the portrayal of the grandmother - has quite a British flavor and since she lives in Toronto, it seems likely that is the location of her hotel. It never really makes a difference as far as the action is concerned, I guess, but I just like to be able to assign a location. This story that starts out as a murder mystery is actually a delicate character study of a unique personality and the personal growth of that person when faced with difficult circumstances. Molly the maid is a wonderful character and a credit to her creator. I have no idea if the writer has any plans to write further adventures for her, but I would certainly read any book that featured her.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Comments

  1. Ingenious! Autism is fascinating because it indicates features of the real world that the five ordinary senses don't often perceive. So much to learn, so little time...

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    1. Exactly. Autism is just another way of being unique, as Molly certainly is.

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  2. You're not the only one who likes to know where a book is set, Dorothy. I don't know why it's important to me but it is.

    Five out of five-- it's good to see that you've finally escaped the Mehs. I know The Maid certainly sounds like a winner to me.

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    1. This one was definitely a winner. I think you would like it, Cathy.

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  3. Your review makes me even more eager to read the book. I'm on the long list at the library.

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  4. I so want to read this one! I've only heard good things about it. And I already like the character of Molly. :)

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  5. Both my partner and daughter have Autism and it's rather mind blowing how large the spectrum is. It does sound like she might be on the spectrum a wee bit.

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    1. It certainly seemed that way to me, but that just contributed to her uniqueness.

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    2. Terrific review Dorothy. I still think about Molly:)

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    3. I think she will be hard to forget.

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  6. Definitely adding this to my TBR. One of the mom's in my classroom gave me an amazing book on Autism last year, because her son is on the spectrum. It was such an amazing book.
    It's Zondagskind by Judith Visser and I've read somewhere that's she's going to translate it to English :)
    She's on the spectrum herself so a lot of things in her books come from her own experience.

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    1. Autism is an interesting phenomenon. It's often thought of as a disability and yet it appears to give those who have it heightened abilities in some areas.

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  7. This one certainly made an impression on you. The Maid sounds like a genuine winner.

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  8. I've been reading good things about this book. Thanks for your review.

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    1. It's quite well written and has a fascinating main character.

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  9. Wow 5 stars! I have it on my list. It sounds fun. And surely is popular in Canada ... but somehow I snagged a copy from the library. Only when will I get to it? hmm

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    1. It seems to be pretty universally acclaimed and that is no mystery to me.

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