By Freida McFadden
A rich handsome man – a bitchy wife – a beautiful young housemaid who is on parole.
What’s the worst that could happen?
Wilhelmina (Millie) Calloway is on parole after serving ten years in prison. She has found it difficult to get and keep a job. She is currently living in her car.
When she interviews for the job of housemaid for the Winchester’s she thinks her worries are over.
Nina, Andrew, and their daughter Cecelia live in a gorgeous gated two-story home. Her job is to keep it clean, run errands, cook, and sometimes watch Cecelia.
The home has a master bedroom, Cecelia’s bedroom, a guestroom, and a home theater all on the second floor. Millie is shown to her room in the attic by way of a narrow dark stair way. The room is tiny with a lumpy cot, a light with a pull string, a window that was painted shut, and a door that locks on the outside.
It doesn’t take long for Millie to discover why she was so lucky to get this job. She arrives her first day to a total pigsty. The house was immaculate when she met with Nina for her interview but now it is a mess. Her first day is cleaning the entire house and she admits that when she is through, she is proud of the work she has done. She goes to bed feeling good.
The next morning, she wakes up to Nina yelling in the kitchen. Millie walks into a total mess. Supposedly Nina has lost her notes for her afternoon PTA meeting and she is sure that Millie has thrown them away. In her search of the kitchen, Nina has knocked everything off the counters, dumped all of the food from the refrigerator as well as pouring out all of the milk.
Nina threatens to fire Millie until Andrew walks in and manages to calm his wife down. Millie cleans the kitchen and fixes breakfast for the family.
Nina continues to act kind one minute and yell at Millie the next. Nina is a cruel person and if there were any way out, Millie would leave but because she is on parole, her parole officer could make her go back to prison if she doesn’t have anywhere to live. She lucked out that she got a job before the system found out that she’d been living in her car.
While cleaning, Millie notices Nina’s medicine cabinet and the fact that she is on a lot of medication that appears to be related to mental health.
While waiting to pick up Cecelia, one of Nina’s friends tells Millie that Nina had spent time in an asylum for trying to drown Cecelia and kill herself. This makes Millie feel even less safe in the home.
She has a chance meeting with the gardener, Enzo. He is a gorgeous Italian man who doesn’t speak English. He is so good looking that all of Nina’s friends have hired him to do their yard work also.
Enzo acts like he is trying to warn Millie that she needs to leave. Because of their inability to communicate it takes her a while to translate a word he says on her phone. She learns that it means danger. But their inability to communicate prevents him from telling her why she is in danger. Every time they try to talk, Nina catches them and Enzo acts as if he is afraid of her.
The rest of the book is a slow burn as her life in the home becomes a living hell. Even Cecelia hates her and often causes her to get in trouble for little things like accusing her of trying to feed her peanut butter when she has a nut allergy.
Her only ally is Andrew. She admits she is attracted to him but Andrew obviously loves Nina and Millie is a good person and knows Andrew has no reason to be interested in her.
The story twists and turns in unexpected ways. As a reader you’re not sure who you can trust, and you become concerned for Millie’s safety as Nina spirals deeper into madness. Nina becomes a more dangerous threat once she lets it slip to Andrew that Millie had spent time in prison. Millie fears the news will turn him against her and she will really be all alone.
When Millie wakes up one night to go to the bathroom and discovers that her bedroom door is locked she starts going into panic mode.
The book has a good surprise ending. It was unexpected and it held a hint as to what Millie may be involved in with the next book.
I discovered this book by watching book reviewers on YouTube. Lots of people like it. This was a good read and I think Freida McFadden is an author to follow. I plan to read the next in this series.
It was another book that I stayed up way too late to finish reading. (I really need to stop doing that.) The characters are fully developed. I liked that they all had flaws, including Millie.
At first, I wasn’t sure what was going on, but the story had a good hook and it reeled me in. As the story unfolds, it slowly starts to make sense and with each chapter I couldn’t put it down. I was invested and wanted to know where it would go.
I would recommend this book to anyone who loves thrillers and good mysteries. It is fast paced. I didn’t find the story predictable. It kept me guessing to the end.
I rated this book four stars. It is something I might read again but the second time as a writer to see exactly how the author did a few things.
Title: The Housemaid
Author: Freida McFadden
Year Published: April 26, 2022
Rating: Goodreads 4.36
Setting: Winchester Home
About the author:
Freida McFadden is a multi-award winning and nominated author, a practicing physician specializing in brain injury who has written multiple psychological thrillers and medical humor novels.
She lives with her family and a black cat in a centuries old home overlooking the ocean. She says it has a set of stairs that creak and moan and if you scream, no one will hear you. Unless you scream loudly.
A tour of Wall of Books – a local bookstore I visit often.
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