After a humiliating breakup, Anne Morgan disappears into herself and separates from the culinary world that she has worked in her entire adult life. Finding comfort in the words of celebrity blogger Emma Helmsley, Anne sees an ad that Emma is looking for a housekeeper. Though overqualified, Anne applies for the position and is welcomed into the private life of the Helmsley family.
Anne becomes intimately immersed in the private lives of each member of the Helmsley family, from having deep morning conversations with Rob that grow a little too friendly, to impersonating Emma at their son Jake’s school. The deeper that Anne falls, the more secrets that she uncovers—including some that hit a little close to home.
Suellen Dainty’s The Housekeeper immediately drew me in with its promise of dirty secrets and a troubling past. My expectations were perhaps set a bit too high; The Housekeeper takes its time to set the scene, and it is only in the second half of the book where everything begins to click into place. Despite my desire to stop reading less than halfway through, I pushed through to the very end. The characters and their situations were difficult to relate to, and the only people I had any empathy for were Rob and Emma’s children, Jake and Lily.
Anne was such a frustrating protagonist. She goes through a breakup where she’s cheated on, but then develops feelings for Rob and states she wouldn’t feel bad if she had an affair with him. She is so desperate for a family that she lets a teacher believe she’s Emma. These little choices that Emma made had me questioning her mental health and wondering if she’d become a danger to Emma and her family.
Instead, The Housekeeper took an interesting turn; there may have been clues early on in the book that I had missed, but I am not invested enough in the book or characters to go back to the beginning and search for them. If there is one positive thing I can say about the book, though, it’s that Suellen’s writing style impressed me. Had the pacing flowed more quickly, I think I really would have enjoyed this book. The setup played more like a movie than a novel as I read, and may translate beautifully to the silver screen someday.
Jennifer graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in English. She occasionally dabbles with her own fiction writing, particularly with the Young Adult and Paranormal genres. She currently resides in Utah with her husband and daughter.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Washington Square Press. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.