Entering into the final stretch of our February buddy reads with The Housekeeper by Sullen Dainty. Keep reading for a synopsis of the book and to see what we thought!
Synopsis from Goodreads
“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.
WHAT CHANDRA THOUGHT
Anne is a chef, happy in her job and in her relationship with the restaurant’s owner, Anton. When Anton admits to an affair, her world crumbles around her. She loses her boyfriend and her job in one short night and doesn’t know what she is going to do. Following the blog of Emma Helmsley (England’s Martha Stewart), she finds they need a housekeeper. Feeling as if she needs to stay away from the restaurant business for a while as to avoid any awkwardness, she applies and is hired immediately. As she pours her heart and soul into the family and their house, she feels herself becoming a part of the family and not just someone who works for them. But the closer she gets to them, the more secrets she learns and in return the more she lets them learn about her. Eventually, the past comes to the surface, secrets come out and she has to make a decision.
This book states on the back that it is a “nail-biting psychological thriller”. I didn’t find it to be either. It read completely as a contemporary novel to me instead. I enjoyed Anne as a character and understood her need for organization and being a part of something that made her feel useful. The family nuances were intriguing and realistic. The relationship between Anne and the Helmsley’s was well built and you could understand Anne’s point of views in wanting to protect them over time. However, the pace was a bit slow for me. I didn’t feel like anything really happened until about half way through and even then I found myself losing interest and my mind wandering.
I was told by other readers that this wasn’t really a thriller so I went in not expecting the suspenseful psychological thriller that it appeared to be in its blurb. However, I still felt a bit slighted that it wasn’t. Please note that as a contemporary novel that builds on the slow build of complicated relationships that happen through the wants of both parties but for different reasons, it is well written. While this didn’t quite hit my book love button, for those who do cater more to contemporary fiction novels, this would be a good read for you. I just happen to prefer my books a bit more fast paced and with a bigger punch.
I give this book 3.5 stars. This is mainly influenced by how the description was misleading. I was expecting a huge thriller with some crazy twists. “a nuanced and nail-biting psychological thriller about the dark recesses of the human mind and the dangerous consequences of long-buried secrets.” This book wasn’t all that much of a thriller.
Anne Morgan’s boyfriend (and boss) leaves her for another woman, She then finds herself in desperate need of a new job and some new surroundings. Meanwhile, her celebrity idol, Emma Helmsley (England’s Martha Stewart), is in need of a housekeeper, an opportunity which seems too good to be true.
With her many books, a website, and her blog, Emma Helmsley advises her many 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. They appear to be the perfect family. But Anne soon finds herself in the Helmsley’s dirty laundry and realizes that underneath the dust, grime, and whimsical clutter, everyone has a secret to hide and Anne’s own disturbing past threatens to unhinge everything.
While it sounded great and I was expecting a page-turning, could not put it down thriller, it was still an enjoyable book. You could consider it a slow burn, but it felt like it was taking forever. There was a slow build and you began to pull back the layers of the story and their secrets, but it didn’t have that nail-biting effect on me. Still a good read and very well written!
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The Housekeeper by Suellen Dainty was not what I was expecting. This novel, although marketed as a thriller, read, instead like a piece of contemporary fiction. I continuously felt like I was waiting for something big to happen.
Let me break it down…
The novel focuses on Anne Morgan. A woman who has it all: a successful, handsome boyfriend and an elite job in a restaurant. Until, all of a sudden, she doesn’t. After her boyfriend leaves her for someone else, Anne ends up becoming a housekeeper to one of her idols, Emma. Emma writes a lifestyle blog that Anna religiously follows. Perfect on the surface, as Emma begins working with the family, she begins to find all their secrets and realizes that even the most prominent families have things they want buried….
This one suggested it its synopsis on Goodreads that it is “nail biting”. This was not the case. It is not a psychological thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat. It is very slow paced and truly, not a whole heck of a lot happens. I must, however, applaud Dainty for her writing skills; although the plot missed the mark for me, I was engaged in her writing style. I had no problems getting through this book; it just was not what I was expecting.
I was also a fan of the characterization; I really like Anne and Emma. I loved the development between Anne and the family as she begins to obsess over them. I also loved her struggle to find the identity of her birth father. It was these little “extras” that kept me reading, long after I stopped hoping something exciting would happen.
If you are wanting a thriller that will keep you flipping the pages and on the edge of your seat, this will not be your choice. However, if you want a well-written piece of fiction that will engage you, then, by all means, The Housekeeper would be a solid selection. Overall, I gave it a 2/5 stars on Goodreads.
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