The Family Upstairs: A Novel
“With sufficient twists to keep a reader’s interest and empathetic protagonists to root for, this latest novel of psychological suspense from New York Times bestselling author Lisa Jewell is an atmospheric page-turner guaranteed to please.”
Libby Jones receives a letter on her 25th birthday, informing her she inherited an enormous, empty mansion in the chic London neighborhood of Chelsea.
One call to her adopted mother spells out what it means for her future. “‘Well then, my angel,’ says her mother—and Libby can hear her smile from all these miles away—‘you’ll be a very rich woman indeed.’”
Rich she may be, but she also discovers a sister and a brother she knew nothing about and a dark and ugly past. Her parents died under mysterious circumstances in the house she now owns.
“Socialite and husband dead in suicide pact. Teenage children missing: baby found alive,” screams a headline from an old newspaper article.
Unsure what to do, Libby enlists the help of a friend from work and a newspaper reporter to investigate the circumstances of her parents’ death, her siblings’ disappearance, and her adoption.
At the same time Libby discovers her inheritance, far from London, Libby’s sister Lucy receives a text message, “The baby is 25.” It signals to Lucy it’s time to come home.
Lucy has been living in poverty on the French Riviera. “Nearly forty years old. Homeless. Single. Penniless. Not even who she says she is. Even her name is fake. She is a ghost. A living, breathing ghost.”
Then there is brother Henry, a man who has waited a very long time to see both his sisters again.
It is through Henry’s point of view that we learn the most about the family history and the people who invaded their world. “It all happened so slowly, yet so extraordinarily quickly, the change to our parents, to our home, to our lives after they arrived.”
Twenty-four years after the death of their parents, the three reunite.
But what does Libby learn about her strange past?
Jewell uses Libby’s investigation along with the points of view of her siblings to build the full picture of the incidents leading up to the deaths. The outcome is such that the reader knows more than Libby ever will.
But, as with all good psychological suspense, the protagonists are not to be trusted, and people and events are not as they appear.
In addition to the complexities of the three protagonists lives, Jewell investigates the struggles people have to find meaning in life. When money and social position fail, what can a person do?
In Jewell’s world, characters explore cult-like leaders, dangerous sexual relationships, and revenge. While these situations may be more extreme than most people would pursue, the impulses are universal. Everyone wants to belong, to be loved and to believe life is worthwhile.
With sufficient twists to keep a reader’s interest and empathetic protagonists to root for, this latest novel of psychological suspense from New York Times bestselling author Lisa Jewell is an atmospheric page-turner guaranteed to please.