Millie is just looking for a fresh start. When she interviews for a position as a housemaid for a picture-perfect family, and (to her own surprise) lands the job, she’s grateful for the opportunity to bring some stability into her life. So grateful, she’s willing to overlook that her employer Nina, seems to have a split personality… and that the landscaper has warned her of the ‘danger’ she’ll find in the Winchester House… and that her attic bedroom only locks from the outside.
As Millie learns more about the Winchesters, it becomes clear that things aren’t as perfect as they had seemed. The question is, is Millie really in danger? And, who exactly should she be afraid of?
All of this serves to make The Housemaid by Freida McFadden is a wild ride for your book club and we’re sure you’ll have plenty to talk about! Use our The Housemaid book club questions to help your book club explore the book’s themes of relationship dynamics, mental health, self-preservation, and revenge. This discussion guide for The Housemaid contains a synopsis, 10 discussion prompts, and a selection of reviews.
Looking for more books with a similar feel? Check out our suggestions for 3 great readalikes!
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The Housemaid Synopsis
(We always chose to provide the publisher synopsis because we feel that it’s worthwhile to discuss whether the official book description actually squared with your experience of the book.)
The Housemaid, Freida McFaddon
Every day I clean the Winchesters’ beautiful house top to bottom. I collect their daughter from school. And I cook a delicious meal for the whole family before heading up to eat alone in my tiny room on the top floor.
I try to ignore how Nina makes a mess just to watch me clean it up. How she tells strange lies about her own daughter. And how her husband Andrew seems more broken every day. But as I look into Andrew’s handsome brown eyes, so full of pain, it’s hard not to imagine what it would be like to live Nina’s life. The walk-in closet, the fancy car, the perfect husband.
I only try on one of Nina’s pristine white dresses once. Just to see what it’s like. But she soon finds out… and by the time I realize my attic bedroom door only locks from the outside, it’s far too late.
But I reassure myself: the Winchesters don’t know who I really am.
They don’t know what I’m capable of…
10 The Housemaid Book Club Questions
These questions have been tailored to this book’s specific reading experience, but if you want more ideas, we also have an article with 101 generic book club questions.
- “There’s something in his expression that sends a chill down my spine. And then he shakes his head, almost imperceptibly. Almost like he’s trying to warn me. But he doesn’t say a word.”
Millie seems to ignore the clues that something is terribly wrong at the Winchester house. If you were Millie, would you have accepted the job at all after seeing the bedroom in the attic? At what point would you have quit the job?
- Both Millie and Nina feel trapped in a bad situation because of circumstances from their past. Do you think either of them should have or could have left the Winchester home sooner, despite the risks?
- How do you think the book portrays mental health? How do you feel about the other mother’s and Millie’s discussions around Nina’s mental health?
- In this book we read from both Millie and Nina’s perspective? Would you have wanted to read from Andrew’s perspective? What would you want to hear from him?
- Before Nina reveals the truth about their relationship, did you ever suspect that Andrew was ‘too good to be true’? Were there any signs?
- What was the most shocking part of the book for you?
- Both Enzo and the detective chose to help Millie and Nina in different ways, because they each had someone close to them be the victim of abuse. Did you think either would have helped without having this personal connection?
- It is revealed that Andrew’s mother would punish him the same way he punished Nina and Millie. Does this change your perception or feelings towards Andrew? What does this say about the cycle of abuse?
- Nina is willing to sacrifice another woman’s safety in order to escape her life with Andrew. How do you feel about this decision? Can you understand Nina’s choices?
- Not only does Millie turn the tables on Andrew and force him to endure his own punishments, but at the end of the novel it’s implied that Millie will continue to take action against men who abuse their wives. Is Millie justified in her actions?
Selected Reviews for The Housemaid
(Use these selected Goodreads reviews to compare with your own experience of the book. Do you agree or disagree with the reviews?)
“This book was very addicting, and very easy to read. I constantly was eager to know what was going to happen and what the answer to specific secrets were. Part II of the book really turns the narrative on its head and took me by surprise which was interesting and intriguing. However, like a lot of thrillers tend to do, it became ridiculous in the end plot-wise, and relied on a lot of shock factor or twist reveals to propel the story and tone forward.”
“I am always a sucker for multiple POV and McFadden has perfected how to use it to increase the suspense! During the first half of the book, I hated Nina but when you learn more about the plot, I learned to appreciate her attitude and reasons for her actions.”
“This book wasn’t my favorite. I didn’t like any of the characters, and while I can sometimes get past that, I couldn’t get to the point where I wanted any of the characters to get away with all of the heinous and awful things they did, just because they themselves had also suffered. Too much revenge for me.”
3 Books like The Housemaid
If you’re keen on maids, mysteries and murder, try out discussion guide for The Maid. If your book group wants more thrillers, we’ve also got discussion guides for thrillers like Verity (Colleen Hoover), The Silent Patient (Alex Michelades), House in the Pines (Ana Reyes), A Flicker in the Dark (Stacy Willingham) and Into the Water (Paula Hawkins).
They Never Learn, Layne Fargo
If you’re intrigued by the concept of a ‘feminist serial killer’ who punishes abusive men for their actions against women, check out They Never Learn by Layne Fargo. Grapple with themes like the morality of revenge, the long term effects of abuse, and our responsibility to protect others in this twisty, turn-y thriller.
Behind Closed Doors, B.A. Paris
Behind Closed Doors is a great readalike for The Housemaid. As individuals, Grace and Jack both seem to have it all, and together they make the perfect couple. Or do they? In this book, you’ll uncover hidden truths behind a seemingly perfect marriage, and things are never quite as they seem. We can’t say too much more about the plot, but trust us, it’s another gripping thriller that goes to some shocking places!
The Last Flight, Julie Clark
Two women meet in an airport. Both are running from something, and both are willing to risk it all to escape. They decide to trade places, but when the plane carrying one of the women crashes, it sets off a series of events that will keep you on the edge of your seat!
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