“I am the housekeeper, the hired help with a messy past who cleans up other people’s messy lives, the one who protects their messy little secrets.”
When Anne Morgan’s successful boyfriend—who also happens to be her boss—leaves her for another woman, Anne finds herself in desperate need of a new job and a quiet place to recover. Meanwhile, her celebrity idol, Emma Helmsley (England’s answer to Martha Stewart), is in need of a housekeeper, an opportunity which seems too good to be true.
Through her books, website, and blog, Emma Helmsley advises her devoted followers on how to live a balanced life in a hectic world. Her husband, Rob, is a high profile academic, and her children, Jake and Lily, are well-adjusted teenagers. On the surface, they are the perfect family. But Anne soon finds herself intimately ensconced in the Helmsley’s dirty laundry, both literally and figuratively. Underneath the dust, grime, and whimsical clutter, everyone has a secret to hide and Anne’s own disturbing past threatens to unhinge everything.
For fans of Notes on a Scandal and The Woman Upstairs, The Housekeeper is a nuanced and nail-biting psychological thriller about the dark recesses of the human mind and the dangerous consequences of long-buried secrets.
The Housekeeper turned out to be not at all what I expected.
Although this is marketed as a nail-biting psychological thriller, I found that instead of a super thrilling page turner, it was more of a slow drawing in and as you get closer, things appear more and more off and you peel away layer after layer of secrets and lies until you find the truth submerged beneath. Which is not necessarily a bad thing. It just made for a different experience than the one I anticipated going in.
Anne Morgan has something of an obsessive personality. In her relationships, she grasps on to the other person, revolving her entire life around them. So when her boyfriend and boss leaves her for another woman, she is completely lost. Then she finds a new job as housekeeper for her new celebrity idol, Emma Helmsley, and her family, and they become her new obsession. And as she draws closer to them, she is too preoccupied with imagining she is becoming part of the family to see what is actually right in front of her.
I would categorize this more of an in-depth character study than psychological thriller. The characters are well drawn and realistic. The writing is smooth and precise. And the plot moves along steadily, without too much speeding up or slowing down despite some of the highs and lows. Overall an intriguing and solid story that I would recommend to anyone who prefers a character driven story over a plot driven one.
*Thanks to the publisher for providing an arc of this edition via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.