A woman hires a housekeeper to care for her aging parents—only to watch as she takes over their lives in this riveting novel from the New York Times bestselling author called “an ingenious master of domestic suspense” (Samantha M. Bailey).
In the end, I have only myself to blame. I’m the one who let her in.
Jodi Bishop knows success. She’s the breadwinner, a top-notch real estate agent. Her husband, Harrison . . . not so much. Once, he had big dreams. But now, he’s a middling writer who resents his wife’s success.
Jodi’s father, Vic, now in his late seventies and retired, is a very controlling man. His wife, Audrey, was herself no shrinking violet. But things changed when Audrey developed Parkinson’s ten years ago, and Vic retired to devote himself to her care. But while still reasonably spry and rakishly handsome, Vic is worn down by his wife’s deteriorating condition.
Exhausted from trying to balance her career, her family, and her parents’ needs, Jodi starts interviewing housekeepers to help care for Audrey and Vic. She settles on Elyse Woodley, an energetic and attractive widow in her early sixties, who seems perfect for the job. While Vic is initially resistant, he soon warms to Elyse’s sunny personality and engaging ways.
And Jodi is pleased to have an ally, someone she can talk to and occasionally even confide in. Until . . .
She shuts Jodi out. And Audrey’s condition worsens—rapidly. Who is this woman suddenly wearing her mother’s jewelry? What is she after? And how far will she go to get it?
What’s it about (in a nutshell):
The Housekeeper by Joy Fielding is an insidious and deceptive domestic thriller that kept me on the edge of my seat from start to finish. Jodi’s aging parents won’t leave their home, so she hires a housekeeper to help them out. But, she quickly learn that all that glitters is not gold!
Initial Expectations (before beginning the book):
The cover doesn’t give much away. It’s the back of a more traditional-looking housekeeper – hair in a bun and wearing a uniform or conservative clothing. Without the title, I probably wouldn’t even think that it is a housekeeper pictured. The blurb tells a deliciously devious tale I can’t wait to sink my teeth into. So, my initial expectations are for a chilling, thrilling story.
Actual Reading Experience:
The first thing that stands out is that the men in this story are just awful. Self-serving with a tendency to stray, they are not winning husband-of-the-year awards anytime soon or ever. I just wanted Jodi (the main character) to get away from the men in her life, forget about the housekeeper, and just go far away and enjoy a much-needed journey of self-discovery.
The plot was very predictable, except maybe the ending. But, boy, it didn’t matter at all because I couldn’t put it down regardless. My need for Jodi to be free drove me, though, rather than what evil the to-good-to-be-true housekeeper was doing. But I was completely fine with that.
I love that the story addresses real concerns, such as elder abuse and schemes to rob the elderly of their retirement nest egg. This is a not-often-enough-talked-about reality in our society that needs some more definitive solutions. And it covers these topics without ever preaching but instead showing you a thrilling story that you can’t put down. I think books like that can have a much more lasting impact than ones that preach.
All the characters are developed through the support characters could have developed a bit more. However, I did feel that they were fleshed out enough for this story, especially Jodi. Her layers are shown in tragic detail.
Jodi Bishop is the person telling this tale. She is a real estate agent in Toronto and a wife and mother of two young children. She has been made to feel inferior to her sister, Tracy, and she lives with the many scars of being told how she’s not good enough.
Tracy is Jodi’s sister. She has never worked a day in her life, even though she is now in her 40s. Instead, her father pays for everything, including her expensive taste in designer clothes.
Harrison Bishop is Jodi’s husband. He is a published author working on his second novel (for the last 10 years) and teaches a writing course in the summer at the local college.
Elyse Woodley is the housekeeper Jodi finds to help her parents daily. At first, she seems too good to be true, and you know what people say about that – if something or someone appears too good, they probably are.
Narration & Pacing:
This story is told through 1st person narration by Jodi. This helps keep the pacing fast as the reader sees everything through her tension and anxiety. Even in parts where not much is happening, the story still moved quickly for me due in part to Jodi and in part to the very short chapters.
Toronto is technically the setting, but I would consider Jodi’s childhood home the actual setting. The house is where everything happens, and it is used quite effectively to keep the suspense levels high and to reflect important aspects of the different characters.
To Read or Not to Read:
If you enjoy deliciously devious domestic thrillers, The Housekeeper is a story you will enjoy from start to finish!
Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4.25)
- Originality Rating: ⭐⭐⭐💫 (3.5)
- Writing Quality Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (5)
- Pace Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐💫 (4.5)
- Character Development Rating: ⭐⭐⭐💫 (3.5)
- ‘Couldn’t Put It Down’-ness Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (5)
- Use of Setting Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4)