There are some dirty doings lurking behind the stately facade of the Regency Grand Hotel. Molly the Maid’s job is to clean things up, returning the rooms to “a state of perfection”. But even her efforts are thwarted by the ill intentions of other guests and staff.
Molly is a remarkably unique (and quirky) character whose innocent demeanor and social awkwardness place her at the white hot center of this murder mystery. That alone should give you plenty to talk about for your book club. But reviews for The Maid are quite binary, with some loving the book and others hating it. And that’s what will give you great book club fodder.
We’ll help you get the conversation started with our book club questions for The Maid. We’ve got 10 discussion prompts, a book synopsis and four wildly divergent review snippets that you can use to provide structure for your book discussion
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The Maid Synopsis
The Maid, Nita Prose
Molly Gray is not like everyone else. She struggles with social skills and misreads the intentions of others. Her gran used to interpret the world for her, codifying it into simple rules that Molly could live by.
Since Gran died a few months ago, twenty-five-year-old Molly has been navigating life’s complexities all by herself. No matter—she throws herself with gusto into her work as a hotel maid. Her unique character, along with her obsessive love of cleaning and proper etiquette, make her an ideal fit for the job. She delights in donning her crisp uniform each morning, stocking her cart with miniature soaps and bottles, and returning guest rooms at the Regency Grand Hotel to a state of perfection.
But Molly’s orderly life is upended the day she enters the suite of the infamous and wealthy Charles Black, only to find it in a state of disarray and Mr. Black himself dead in his bed. Before she knows what’s happening, Molly’s unusual demeanor has the police targeting her as their lead suspect. She quickly finds herself caught in a web of deception, one she has no idea how to untangle. Fortunately for Molly, friends she never knew she had unite with her in a search for clues to what really happened to Mr. Black—but will they be able to find the real killer before it’s too late?
A Clue-like, locked-room mystery and a heartwarming journey of the spirit, The Maid explores what it means to be the same as everyone else and yet entirely different—and reveals that all mysteries can be solved through connection to the human heart.
10 The Maid Book Club Questions
- Is Molly simply social awkward, or is she neurodivergent, or even on the spectrum? What aspects of her behavior lead you to that conclusion one way or another? What you do you think was the author’s intent?
- “With Gran gone, much of the time I feel like a blind person in a minefield.”
What are some ways that Molly’s innocence and poor social skills do her a disservice?
- Molly has such a particular way of speaking. Such as declaring that she will be “returning the room to a state of perfection”
What did you think about her manner of speech? How was it important to her character development?
- “Truth isn’t always the highest ideal; sometimes it must be sacrificed to stop the spread of pain to those you love.” Do you agree?
- The book hints that Mr. Preston may be Molly’s grandfather, but the question is left unanswered. What do you think?
- The book never states a city or even country for the hotel? What city were you visualizing when you read the book?
- Who were you thinking had wielded the deadly pillow. Were you surprised by the reveal?
- The book has a few plot holes– Molly should get in trouble for pawning the ring (but doesn’t). The theft of the Faberge caused her great stress, but she could have easily recovered the money with a police filing and FDIC claim. What was Charlotte doing questioning Molly on the stand in what was clearly a criminal courtroom?
Were there other plot holes? Did you get hung up on these inconsistencies, or did you simply go with the flow?
- Molly is such a sympathetic character in many respects. She is enthusiastically quirky, she grieving, she’s bullied and she has the stress and financial burden of a low wage job. But then, she also stole and pawned a ring, lied and told partial truths to the police and in court, and allowed a killer to go free while another person may have been falsely convicted of the crime. She’s complicated.
How did you feel about Molly in the end?
- Molly sees her uniform as an invisibility cloak and in the opening line, she says, “I’m your maid. I’m the one who cleans your hotel room, who enters like a phantom when you’re out gallivanting for the day, no care at all for what you’ve left behind, the mess, or what I might see when you’re gone.“
She also says that, “You can be so crucial, so important to the fabric of things and yet be entirely overlooked.”
Does the book’s descriptions of maid service make you rethink how you see or treat service workers such as janitors and hotel staff?
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Selected Reviews of The Maid
“The more I read, the less I wanted this story to end; such was my engagement with the character set. So my applause goes to Prose for pulling off such a thought-provoking, yet emotionally astute and satisfying conclusion.” – Booklover Book Reviews, check out their full review of The Maid.
“This is a cozy mystery with depth, and Molly is truly a memorable character that you can’t help but love […] The scandalous mystery and its players aren’t that shocking, and yet it is fun figuring everything out through Molly’s POV. It was a joy to see her blossom throughout the 1-week timeframe. This provided laughs, intrigue, and a locked room-style mystery where anyone could be guilty.”
“It’s clear that the author cherry-picked the autistic characteristics that would best serve her story, then exaggerated them to the point of making Molly seem infantile, and created a whole plot out of it. So what’s the problem? Well, there’s something off about a neurotypical author crafting an adorably stupid but inauthentic autistic character, all for the sake of entertaining a predominantly neurotypical audience. In fact, it feels decidedly icky.”
“Unfortunately, the author felt a need to throw in a kitchen sink of social issues along the way, which took away from the charm of the story. Illegal immigration, domestic abuse, drug running, euthanasia, with the latter being the most egregious and out of character. I suspect it was added as an agenda of the author’s. She should have restrained herself.”
“I just wanted to wrap my arms around Molly in a hug and wrap my hands around the necks of those that took advantage of her trust and desire for friendship. Thank heavens it turns out she does have a few real friends. The ending was absolutely perfect.”
3 Books like The Maid
The Maid was a Good Morning America book club pick. If you like their recommendations, we also have a number of reading guides for GMA books including: The Lions of Fifth Avenue, The Vanishing Half, The Personal Librarian and The Midnight Library.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, Gail Honeyman
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is a good comp if you liked Molly’s social awkwardness and the “is she neurodivergent or isn’t she?” part of the character development.
Eleanor Oliphant is a solitary, intelligent, and mistreated woman who insists she is “completely fine.” Spoiler alert: she’s not fine!
Eleanor’s awkward social interactions and misunderstandings result from past trauma and the unkindness of people around her. When she and a new colleague save an elderly man’s life, things begin to change. The challenging but hopeful book explores themes of isolation, intimacy, and trauma while advocating sympathetically for warmth and understanding.
Read it for book club and use our discussion guide for Eleanor Oliphant.
The Thursday Murder Club, Richard Osman
This series is a good pick if you want more cozy mysteries featuring a quirky cast of characters.
Who wants to sit around knitting and playing bridge? Not these four amateur sleuths. Rather, they spend their time reviewing cold cases and chasing up criminals. Meet The Thursday Murder Club, Cooper Chase Retirement Home’s most deadly social group. These retirees each bring a unique set of skills to solving the murder of their retirement home developer.
The book is surprisingly light in tone and not too long. But there are enough twists and turns to give your book group a lot to talk about.
Use our book club guide for The Thursday Murder Club to get the convo started.
Hotels of North America, Rick Moody
If you want more insight into the dark underbelly of hotels and the sad guests who inhabit them, then Moody’s tragicomic book will be perfect for you.
Have you ever found yourself marooned in some dodgy hotel asking yourself, “How did I get here?” Yep, me too. Such is the conundrum faced by Moody’s Reginald Morse. Reginald is the top reviewer for a hotel booking site. As his life spirals away from him, his hilarious hotel reviews reveal the blow-back from his terrible life choices.
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