I’m an absolute sucker for books where the narrator addresses the reader directly. I loved Molly the Maid from the first page and the book was an absolute delight from start to finish. Molly works as a maid at the Regency Grand Hotel and she is very proud of her skills as a cleaner, skills she learned from her grandmother who died a few months ago. Many of her colleagues find Molly a little bit odd – in fact she knows they call her Roomba after a robot hoover – but she thinks they call her Rumba after the dance on Strictly although she doesn’t know why. Molly likes things to follow a routine, things must be in their place and there are ways to clean everything. In fact her Gran said that cleanliness was next to Godliness. Even at home they had a cleaning schedule, something different each night before dinner, and Molly has carried that into her work. She does have some friends, Mr Preston who works on the door, Juan who washes dishes in the kitchens and Rodney who works behind the bar. Her friends are very important to her and if it does good, it’s occasionally okay to bend the rules. So, when Rodney takes her out for a meal and asks for a favour she’s only too happy to help.
Juan has lost his work visa and needs a place to stay, so could she slip him a key each day to an unoccupied room? Rodney gives her a bag, she doesn’t check, but assumes they are Juan’s things and deposits them in the chosen room on her rounds. Her last friend is Giselle, the glamorous second wife of Mr Black, who stays in a suite at the hotel so regularly that Giselle and Molly have interacted a lot. She has all those qualities that Molly values in a person – she acknowledges the little people, she’s polite and treats Molly like a real human being, rather than looking past her. The story begins as one day Molly doubles back on her normal route to clean the Black’s bathroom. She’s done the rest of the suite, but Giselle was in the shower. Molly makes her way through the suite, noticing that cushions are disturbed, the safe is open and Mr Black is taking a nap on the bed. Yet when she looks closer, perhaps he isn’t sleeping? Maybe he’s dead?
This was a clever way of merging a thriller, with a genuinely uplifting story about someone who has gone through an enormous change in her life. I truly felt gripped by the thriller aspects of the story, but also touched by the personal journey that Molly is facing. She has lost someone close to her and is learning to negotiate life as a fully fledged adult. She doesn’t have that ability to read people’s moods and motivations so she’s perhaps an easy mark for people who want to exploit her. I thought the author had a very difficult line to tread with the tone of the novel. We know that Molly thinks in an individual way and there are times when we do understand more than she does about what’s going on at the hotel. Molly refers to this with a jigsaw analogy – she knows she has all the pieces, but hasn’t put them in the right order yet. This could have been disastrous if the reader was superior to Molly, but we never are. The author keeps us firmly with our heroine, even while other characters treat her badly and underestimate her intelligence. The story was gripping and I wanted to know what was really going on at the hotel, and which of Molly’s friends were truly fighting her corner. Molly is a heroine who will stay with me a long time. Even though the goings on at the hotel are sleazy and dangerous, her personal story is touching, charming and ultimately joyful.
Meet The Author.
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.