Monday 19 August 2019

The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell @lisajewelluk @arrowpublishing #TheFamilyUpstairs

In a large house in London’s fashionable Chelsea, a baby is awake in her cot. Well-fed and cared for, she is happily waiting for someone to pick her up.

In the kitchen lie three decomposing corpses. Close to them is a hastily scrawled note. 

They’ve been dead for several days.

Who has been looking after the baby? 

And where did they go?

Two entangled families.
A house with the darkest of secrets.
A compulsive new thriller from Lisa Jewell.

The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell was published by Century / Penguin Random House in hardback on 8 August 2019. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

Give me a story about a neglected mansion house, full of secrets, with tragedies hidden away in its depths. Give me a story narrated by characters who may not be trusted. Give me a story told from differing points of view, and that spans across the years. Add in an extremely dysfunctional family, with a hint of obsession and cultish behaviour . Give that to me and I'm one very happy reader.

The Family Upstairs perfectly fits my 'give to me' list.

The story opens with a couple of paragraphs, narrated by a character who is, at first, unknown to the reader. These few lines set the scene and the tone for what is to come.

The three main voices are that of Libby; a young woman who finds that she's inherited a house in well-to-do Chelsea. Lucy; a mother of two, living in France; destitute and hungry, and then the voice from the opening page; we later learn that this is Henry who once lived in that very house in Chelsea.

At first it it difficult to imagine how these three characters are linked, but this clever author weaves together the three narratives so very well, creating a story that is so very dark, yet incredibly compelling.

Libby finds out so much more than she could ever imagined when she inherits the house. Adopted as a small child, she discovers that her family history is so very different to what she'd always been told. She discovers that her parents died in the house, along with another, unknown man and that she was discovered upstairs, in a cot. Well fed and clutching a rabbit's foot. As Libby delves deeper into a her background, she comes across a story that becomes all-consuming and Lucy and Henry's part in it become all the more clearer.

This is a creepy and engrossing read, it's complex and multi layered and hooks the reader from page one. Lisa Jewell has created a story of menace and suspense, perfectly done with characters who become totally spell binding as the plot unfolds.

Dark, unsettling and brilliant. Highly recommended by me.

Lisa Jewell was born in London. Her first novel, Ralph’s Party, was published in 1999. It was the best-selling debut novel of the year. Since then she has published another sixteen novels, most recently a number of dark psychological thrillers, including The Girls and Then She Was Gone (both of which were Richard & Judy Book Club picks). 
Lisa is a top ten New York Times and number one Sunday Times author who has been published worldwide in over twenty-five languages. 
She lives in north London with her husband, two daughters, two cats, two guinea pigs and the best dog in the world.

Website :
Twitter : @lisajewelluk
Author Page on Facebook
Instagram : @lisajewelluk 

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