I’ve recently re-discovered the thrill of the slower psychological suspense books where the thrills are gained from understanding a character rather than focussing on twists and turns. There is of course a place for both types of books, not least on my own bookshelf, but I think the former leaves a longer lasting impression than the latter where the enjoyment is often in the thrill of the ride. The Housekeeper was one of those books that crept up on me through Anne’s eyes.
Anne Morgan has just been dumped by her boyfriend, a charismatic chef, worse still he was her boss. After doing the requisite moping around, resisting her friend’s attempts to get her back in the kitchen, she has an epiphany. For weeks she has been following Emma Helmsley, a lifestyle blogger and her daily tips have motivated Anne almost as much as she has spent her adulthood referencing Isabella Beeton’s Book of Household Management and the solution seems simple, she will become Emma Helmsley’s housekeeper.
Now I don’t know about you but I feel somewhat queasy about someone poking around in my drawers and I’m no lifestyle blogger holding myself up as the perfect organiser, but Emma is in dire need of help. The rather disorganised household consists of herself, her husband Rob an academic who is in the midst of writing a book about a pioneer psychologist, and their teenage children, Lily and Jake.
Anne has her work cut out for her, there is plenty of clutter to sort out in the house and as we all know, no sooner is one mess sorted out than another appears but she’s enjoying the slower pace, no more fifteen hour days in a busy kitchen. It doesn’t take long for the façade the couple present as they network their way around London to be revealed for something else entirely.
The Housekeeper had me gripped because of the characters; I was fascinated by Anne’s choices and although they wouldn’t have been mine her background made them entirely plausible. As for the family… well all four were equally fascinating although Emma was more frequently in the picture than the others. A special shout-out has to go to the friend Julie who was that voice of reason often lacking in psychological fiction but will her voice be loud enough?
The whole book was written assuredly, the author really making her mark by painting a picture of the house itself, Anne’s flat and the more mundane bus rides home at night, bringing to life the minutia of a young woman’s life while keeping the pace absolutely steady thereby avoiding that deadly speeding up and slowing down jerkiness. The steady pace also allowed me to absorb the excerpts that headed up each chapter which changed from Mrs Beeton’s household tips, to Emma’s motivational statement to parts from Rob’s book about the pioneer psychologist who treated those with disorders outside the more traditional hospital environment.
I’m not going to give any more of the plot away but suffice to say there is an interesting look at a subject that isn’t often tackled and refreshingly it was done without the usual hullabaloo. The Housekeeper’s very strength the almost reserved way that the truth is revealed and interestingly it isn’t all focussed on one character alone.
This book made for a totally satisfying weekend read, with plenty to ponder and wonder about when I wasn’t salivating over the descriptions of the food, maybe a housekeeper would be nice after all!
I’d like to say an enormous thank you to Eve at Midas PR for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and Suellen Dainty for introducing me to the world of household management!