Title: The Family Upstairs
Author: Lisa Jewell
Publisher: Century – Random House UK
Be careful who you let in.
Soon after her twenty-fifth birthday, Libby Jones returns home from work to find the letter she’s been waiting for her entire life. She rips it open with one driving thought: I am finally going to know who I am.
She soon learns not only the identity of her birth parents, but also that she is the sole inheritor of their abandoned mansion on the banks of the Thames in London’s fashionable Chelsea neighborhood, worth millions. Everything in Libby’s life is about to change. But what she can’t possibly know is that others have been waiting for this day as well—and she is on a collision course to meet them.
Twenty-five years ago, police were called to 16 Cheyne Walk with reports of a baby crying. When they arrived, they found a healthy ten-month-old happily cooing in her crib in the bedroom. Downstairs in the kitchen lay three dead bodies, all dressed in black, next to a hastily scrawled note. And the four other children reported to live at Cheyne Walk were gone.
In The Family Upstairs, the master of “bone-chilling suspense” (People) brings us the can’t-look-away story of three entangled families living in a house with the darkest of secrets.
I absolutely love Lisa Jewell’s books, having never been disappointed with her amazing writing and intriguing plots. The Family Upstairs is no exception – combining brilliant characters in Libby, Lucy, Phin, Henry, and more, who we get to know in the various storylines that take place. We have a present-day plot which follows Libby, who has inherited an incredible, multi-million pound house in Chelsea, and also Lucy who is struggling on the streets with her two kids. We also go back in time to the 80s, when a very different set of people resided at the same house in Chelsea. What ties them all together, however, is this house and the fact that pretty much none of them are perfect – they all have their faults, making them feel like real people.
I loved that this book is mainly focusing on quite ‘everyday’ occurrences whilst also being very unusual. There’s a real sense of knowing something bad is coming, but when and how? We know things go very wrong as we learn early on that multiple bodies are found at the house and, as a result, I spent a lot of this book feeling slightly unsettled – there’s a definite feeling of menace lurking in its pages, which is really gripping!
Lisa Jewell always ramps up the tension so effectively, and although I felt that The Family Upstairs wasn’t as much of a mystery as some of her previous novels (which I’ve also loved), it’s still completely absorbing. As a huge fan of novels with multiple storylines, particularly spanning different timeframes, I raced through this in no time… I couldn’t put it down! Definitely recommended.
Many thanks to Century for providing a copy of this book on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.