Book review: Mrs Murphy Hires a Cleaner by Kath Kincaid


I realise that it’s a category that many scoff at, and frankly, I think there are some books that are placed in the category of chick-lit unfairly because they are a bit more than the genre has become. Mrs Murphy Hires a Cleaner is not one of those books; it sits happily and unashamedly in the chick-lit section, although it’s of a slightly more mature character and has some relatively humorous bits. It’s a quick and fairly engaging read—I finished the 489 pages in a day. It wasn’t overly special—I’ll have forgotten it in a week and won’t have the desire to read it again—it was a pleasant and light distraction of a book.

The content

Kath Kincaid isn’t the type of person who would keep you guessing with the title. The subject matter of the book does indeed revolve around Mrs Murphy—a sad, lonely, fat old shadow of her former self—hiring a bright young blonde thing named Mae to clean for her, and the resultant tangle of events that occur from this random occurence. And the events roll in aplenty: bad marriages; new marriages; infidelities; ideological issues; love; kids; terrorists; deaths; dodgy business deals gone awry... all stitched up together to end with everyone behaving with goodness and winding up satisfied with their lot. While the tangles are well dealt with, and the plot moves nicely, there’s something a bit done about this story. I’ve read it—or close variations of it—quite a few times already, with interchangeable characters and plot twists. Maybe that’s why I got through it so fast. It was well done, but it just didn’t have that spark or originality to lift it out of, or distinguish it from, the quagmire of other, similar books in the genre that are just as well written. All in all, an easy and inoffensive read.

Who is this book for?

This book is aimed, most likely, at women who are well past teen fiction and just past the Bridget Jones crowd. While I hesitate to recommend any book exclusively to one gender, it certainly wasn’t written with the guys in mind. Although, I wouldn’t go recommending it to girls unreservedly either. If you happen to find it on a shelf, and you have some spare time and require something to occupy yourself with, there are many more offensive and crapulous books you could choose. You could do a lot worse.

If you like this book, you would also like...

Do yourself a favour and read Helen Fielding (author of Bridget Jones and Cause Celeb). She’s really got it going on, and, while she’s often classed as chick-lit, I would certainly also class her as literary—which for most other chick-lit authors I wouldn’t dream of doing. Also, you would like an array of other authors who manage to achieve the EXACT same writing as Kath Kincaid—who are quite forgettable and I have therefore forgotten their names. I’ll come back and add them as I remember them.



In short

Title Mrs Murphy Hires a Cleaner
Author Kath Kincaid
Publisher Coronet Books
ISBN 0340768800
Year 2000
Pages 489