The Maid

The Maid book


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Book Review

Molly the maid isn’t like everyone else. She struggles with social skills and can’t quite understand the true intent of others. One thing she understands perfectly, though, are the intricacies of a good clean. And when bad people frame this perfect maid for murder, she works to find a clean way out.

Plot Summary

Gran used to help. She’d guide Molly and she always loved her. She raised her from a little girl when Molly’s mom left. But then Gran got sick. And no matter how hard Molly tried, she couldn’t stop the inevitable: Gran died. Then the color drained from the rooms they lived in together. And now Molly is alone.

Alone is very difficult for someone like Molly Gray. This 20-something isn’t like everyone else. She can’t quite understand smiles and frowns. She can’t read the things that people really think and feel. She doesn’t see “the signals.”

It’s not that she’s slow or unobservant. Quite the opposite, really. But to Molly, a smile and sweet words mean that someone is good—even when they’re not. Gran always told her that a book and its cover can be two completely different things. A smile and a nice word can be mean from the wrong person.

It’s all quite confusing.  

There’s only one thing that Molly truly understands, only one choice that holds no mysteries, no subterfuge: cleaning. To make the dirty clean, to scrub away a stain and return a room to its perfection, that is bliss. And that is what Molly does best.

Molly is a maid at the Regency Grand, a five-star boutique hotel that prides itself on “sophisticated elegance and proper decorum for the modern age.” Never in her life did she ever think she’d hold such a lofty position. But here she is, wearing her crisp, clean uniform; filling her housekeeping trolley with soaps and disinfectants; returning sullied rooms to perfection, over and over. When she enters the Regency Grand each day, the world turns Technicolor bright!

However, just like people, there are signals and things about the Regency Grand that Molly can’t quite understand. Wealthy people doing unscrupulous things. People being hurt, coerced and used. Bad things that you’ll only spot if you know where and how to look. But even though she’s right there in the midst, Molly doesn’t know. She doesn’t see them.

Molly the Maid will have to figure out some things soon, however. For unbeknownst to her, she’s been helping the wrong people; she’s been a part of something very wrong that she thought was very right; and she’s soon to be accused … of murder.

Gran would’ve understood. Gran would have helped Molly sort everything out.

But Gran isn’t here any longer.

And someone has to clean up this mess.

Christian Beliefs

Molly frequently repeats phrases, lessons and sayings that her gran drilled into her as rules to live by. Some of those are: “Cleanliness is next to godliness,” and the biblically based saying “treat others as you wish to be treated.”

Molly also repeats the Serenity Prayer that Gran crocheted into a pillow: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

At one point, a protective friend named Juan Manuel says “Dios te bendiga” to Molly, which is Spanish for God bless you. Molly remembers celebrating Christmas with Gran.

Other Belief Systems

Molly states that “one must live by her own moral code, not follow like a sheep, blindly.” And while Molly’s belief system isn’t necessarily Christian, she is guided by the morals and rules that her gran instilled in her. She hates lying and cheating and repeatedly strives to do right by others and fix the wrongs that she’s done (even when done innocently).

At the same time, Molly is also very aware that she is always playing with a deficit in the game of life. “The truth is, I often have trouble with social situations; it’s as though everyone is playing an elaborate game with complex rules they all know, but I’m always playing for the first time,” she says.

Authority Roles

Gran is obviously the biggest influence in Molly’s life. She selflessly raised Molly when Molly’s drug-addicted mom and “bad egg” dad both abandoned her. Gran helps and loves Molly, always preparing her to live happily when she’s someday on her own.

Mr. Snow, the hotel manager, is also a mentor of sorts in Molly’s life, but not a necessarily strong one. The hotel doorman, Mr. Preston, is a true-blue friend who once knew Molly’s grandmother well. He checks in with the young woman regularly, and he’s upright and instrumental in following through and helping her overcome her troubles.

Other people in Molly’s orbit are far less consistent. Some talk behind her back and call her names that she overhears. And a local, cynical detective suspects that Molly’s rather innocent and straightforward perspective is all an act to help her escape criminal prosecution.

Profanity & Violence

Molly isn’t one to swear, other than repeating a “Gran-ism” that includes a spelled-out profanity. Molly also doesn’t like nastiness from the people around her. But there are some in this tale that break out with a bit of foul language—including four f-words and a few lesser crudities.

There are two deaths in the story. One is a murder and the other a mercy killing. And while neither killing is openly praised, the deaths are “accepted” by the story because the former resulted in an innocent’s release from abuse, and the latter resulted in a loved one’s release from the physical misery of severe disease. (Neither killer is held accountable.)

Molly recognizes an angry, violent streak in a rich man who stays regularly at the hotel, and she befriends the man’s wife, making note of the bruises on the woman’s arms. A friend of Molly’s also has burns on his arms that she later learns were signs of painful torture and coercion.

Molly sometimes thinks of violent things she might do to someone who has purposely wronged her or someone she cares about. For instance, she imagines pouring bleach down the throat of a man who stole all of her and her grandmother’s savings. And she thinks of “bad things” she wants to do to someone else who cheats her.

An undocumented man is threatened with harm or death to his family in Mexico if he doesn’t do as he’s told.

Drug deals involving cocaine and benzodiazepine take place in the hotel. Molly actually walks in on men who have been preparing cocaine for sale, and she innocently cleans up the mess without recognizing what it is. A bottle of spilled and crushed benzodiazepine is found at a murder scene. Someone puts prescription painkillers into someone’s tea to dull that individual’s senses before asphyxiating them.  

Several people drink hard alcohol such as gin and scotch from the hotel minibar. Molly drinks a glass of chardonnay while having dinner with someone and feels its effects.

Sexual Content

Molly has a crush on three different men in the story. One abuses her trust and steals everything she has; another manipulates her innocence and the third is a kind and earnest guy. It’s stated that she and the third guy move in together, but it’s unclear whether they marry or not. Molly is kissed on the cheek by one man and kisses another on the mouth.

At the beginning of the book, Molly makes it clear that she understands that some people are likely doing things—such as sexual trysts—at the hotel that they wouldn’t want others to know about. “I’m the one who cleans up after you drink too much and soil the toilet seat, or worse,” she notes. “It’s as though all your filth, all your lies and deceit, have been erased.”

She also notes that one wealthy husband is cheating on his wife with multiple mistresses. She is also surprised by one woman’s affair that she didn’t see happening.

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Additional Comments

The Maid is a well-written, character-driven story that ends up being a murder mystery. Its popularity, and the fact that it’s in development as a major motion picture produced by and starring Florence Pugh, will draw young reader’s interest.

It should be noted, however, that in spite of the protagonist’s sincerity and seeming innocence, there are some hard issues at play here—including murder, illicit drug deals and the justification of a mercy killing.

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Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not necessarily their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book’s review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Review by Bob Hoose