Blog Tour: Book Review - The Housekeeper by Suellen Dainty

'I am the housekeeper, the hired help with a messy past who cleans up other people's messy lives, the one who protects their messy little secrets.'

When Anne Morgan's successful boyfriend - who also happens to be her boss - leaves her for another woman, Anne finds herself in desperate need of a new job and a quiet place to recover. Meanwhile, her celebrity idol, Emma Helmsley (England's answer to Martha Stewart), is in need of a housekeeper, an opportunity which seems too good to be true.

Through her books, website, and blog, Emma Helmsley advises her devoted followers on how to live a balanced life in a hectic world. Her husband, Rob, is a high profile academic, and her children, Jake and Lily, are well-adjusted teenagers. On the surface, they are the perfect family. But Anne soon finds herself intimiately ensconced in the Helmsley's dirty laundry, both literally and figuratively. Underneath the dust, grime and whimsical clutter, everyone has a secret to hide, and Anne's own disturbing past threatens to unhinge everything.

The Housekeeper by Suellen Dainty is a psychological thriller indeed, but not one of the whippet-fast, racing-heart variety, but that's okay. More than okay, in fact, because after reading a couple of those recently, I felt that I needed something a little more subtle, a little more... quietly threatening, perhaps? In my opinion, that was exactly what Suellen Dainty provided in The Housekeeper. It wasn't IN-YOUR-FACE SHOCK HORROR, but more WATCH AS I SLOWLY AND TORTUROUSLY UNRAVEL THE SECRETS AND WATCH HOW THEY FALL, LIKE DOMINOES, EFFECTING ALL WHO ARE INVOLVED.

In Suellen Dainty's The Housekeeper, readers are introduced to Anne Morgan. Still nursing her wounds after a devastating split from her boyfriend, who also just happens to be her boss, making things more difficult than they perhaps need to be, Anne is on the hunt for a new job. A new life, even. She needs something new and exciting to throw herself into, to take her mind off everything else.

Enter Emma Helmsley, well-known and popular blogger/author/modern day miracle worker. Through her various social media platforms, Emma guides women all over the world and teaches them how to keep a balanced, happy and healthy lifestyle. When Anne stumbles upon a vacancy to become the Helmsley's housekeeper, she can't believe her luck. It is almost too good to be true. Nevertheless, she applies, hoping that the cards will be in her favour. And, dear readers, it turns out that they are. Before she knows it, Anna is appointed as the brand-new Helmsley housekeeper.

It doesn't take long for the perfectly presented surface which Emma Helmsley shows to the outside world to reveal its deep and ugly cracks. After all, there is nothing in life that is ever so perfect, is there? And the author, Suellen, does this is the most subtle, unnerving and compelling of ways. It quickly becomes clear that not only do the Helmsley's have their secrets tucked away tight, but Anne has a few of her own too. I couldn't wait for these tasty little morsels to be revealed, and despite being left hanging for a quite while, when the plot did deliver, it did so spectacularly. There was just so much for me to keep my eye on while reading, so much so I could hardly bear to look away for fear of missing something vital. Emma intrigued me throughout this novel, and so did her husband Rob. Each character seemed to be keeping something from me, and I loved how the author slowly but surely revealed the information I was so desperate to find out.

Although not what would be described as a full-on thriller nowadays, this novel certainly had that pull that comes with the genre. It was dark, bordering on obsession and mystery, and something new to learn about someone with every new chapter. I loved the whole aspect of Emma relying so heavily on social-media to ensure her life looked immaculate to any onlookers. Sadly, I think it's something that happens more often than not these days, so it was a very true topic to include within the book.

All in all, The Housekeeper by Suellen Dainty was an intriguing novel about secrets, truths and what really goes on behind closed doors, despite how flawless things may seem on the outside. I was hooked from page one and found myself racing through the pages simply to discover more about such a complex group of people, Emma's teenagers Lily and Jack included. A tantalisingly secretive novel, delving deep into a household that is nowhere near as perfect as it appears to be on the surface.

With thanks to the publisher for a review copy of this book.

About the author

Suellen Dainty grew up in Australia, where she wrote for The Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian and the ABC. She has worked in London for Sky News, where she was a producer and director of the original series of The Book Show. She lives on a Somerset smallholding surrounded by hills, hens and sheep. She is currently writing her second novel.

You can find Suellen Dainty on Facebook and Twitter.
You can purchase your copy of The Housekeeper here.

Post a Comment