The Family Upstairs
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.
When twenty-five year old Libby is told her biological parents left an inheritance for her in their will, she is reluctant to get her hopes up. After all, what could it be? She’ll count herself lucky if it will help keep things afloat. Perhaps a bit of money to tide her over until the next pay check. She’s worked hard her entire life. She’s made a home in a tiny flat, decked it out on the cheap, created her own private and pleasant world. When she is told she is the new owner of a twelve-roomed house on Cheyne Walk, one of Chelsea’s most fashionable streets, she is overwhelmed with disbelief. But what begins as a glorious surprise, swiftly turns into something else entirely. With news of her inheritance, comes news of the houses’ disturbing past.
Many years ago the police found three bodies laid out across the kitchen floor. They had been dead for days, slowly decomposing. Upstairs, a baby, bright and bubbly in her cot. Well-fed, well-cared for. Obviously loved. So who had being looking after her? No one knew. No one found the baby’s strange carer, no one knew why those three people died. The mystery faded and the house was boarded up and left to the dust and dirt. But now, its history, its past, are being exhumed and all its grim secrets are about to be brought to light.
The Family Upstairs is told from three perspectives. They are all equally enthralling but I have to say that I did have a favourite. The third perspective centres on the events leading up those three deaths and snatches the reader up instantly. It is disturbing, frightening, chilling and, it is, without a doubt, one of the most emotionally complex voices I have ever read. I ADORED it. This book explores obsession, abuse, loss, fear, toxic relationships and touches upon the cult dynamic in such a way that will have you gasping for the end. It chills you to the marrow of your bones, it makes you shiver and shake. It is everything I love about this genre and about books in general. It is deliciously dark, terrifically twisted and so emotionally sharp. Genius plot, delivered with beautifully resonant prose.
I knew I was going to struggle writing this review as soon as I finished reading The Family Upstairs because it has utterly blown me away. This is without a doubt one of my favourite reads of the year. I’m recommending this to everyone I know. It is intense, claustrophobic and startlingly sinister. Lisa Jewell is a wordsmith and her stories just keep on getting better and better! Absolutely incredible. Read this read this read this!!
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About Lisa Jewell
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.
With thanks to Laura Brooke, Amber McGuire for my ARC, which i received in exchange for an honest review!