All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

on August 19, 2019

The Family Upstairs
Lisa Jewell
2019, 464p
Copy courtesy of Penguin Random House AUS

Blurb {from the publisher/}:

You thought they were just staying for the weekend. They looked harmless enough – with only two suitcases and a cat in a wicker box. But soon things turn very, very dark. It happens slowly, yet so extraordinarily quickly. Now you and your sister must find a way to survive…

Okay, brief blurb.

Lisa Jewell is one of those authors that I’ve seen around a lot and I always assume I must’ve read some of her books in the past but this is apparently not true and this is the first book of hers I’ve actually read. It’s a dual timeline mystery with a bit of a sinister edge.

Libby has always known she was adopted and when she turns 25, she receives a letter from a solicitor that informs her that she’s now ‘of age’ and will inherit a Chelsea property from her birth parents, who died when she was just a baby. With all that comes some information and Libby spends a lot of time googling her birth parents and the tragic circumstances of their death and how she fit into the story. When Libby explores her new home, she finds evidence that someone may be there and so she enlists the help of a journalist who covered the story to help her find some of the answers she craves.

The story also delves back some 25-30 years into the past, to showcase what happened to Libby’s parents and how it all came about. There are three main narrators – Libby, Lucy (who is in hiding in France and now that ‘the baby’ is 25, is desperate to return to England) and Henry. Not everyone is who you think they are and the way in which they all fit together changes and evolves as the story moves on.

This was really, really engaging. It starts with Libby getting her surprise inheritance, which is a hugely valuable house in a very prestigious area of London. For Libby, who grew up not at all wealthy, this is a shock. She could sell this house and even in its slightly run down state, it would fetch more than enough money that she would never need to worry about money ever again. She’s scrimped and saved to buy her small one bedroom flat and now all of a sudden, everything has changed. And the story of her origin you couldn’t even make up – her parents were once incredibly wealthy socialites who died in tragic and mysterious circumstances, the true story of which has never really been known. There’s been much speculation and guessing in the media but there are still so many unanswered questions, such as what happened to her two siblings? Who cared for baby Libby between the death of her parents and the discovery of their bodies? What happened to her parent’s money?

For the answers to that, you have to go back. Back to the downfall of Libby’s parents, so to speak, which we see through the eyes of a child. He watches as strange people move in ‘temporarily’ into their big, sprawling house and then never leave. The changing relationships, the strangeness of the evolving rules until it’s truly a terrifying situation. The desperation increases, the level of neglect and the slow slide into a completely different and dangerous lifestyle. I felt like everything was covered really well in here, the bewilderment of children as these people came to live with them, the slow realisation that the money was running out, the insidious way in which power shifted within the household and who came to hold it all. There were so many twists and turns and each time I felt like I had it figured out there would be something else that happened to change it and I’d be left wondering again. It was so well planned out and I really felt like it was the sort of book that I could not put down once I got into the meat of the story.

I’ve kept this quite brief because I feel as though it is the sort of story where you should go in not knowing that much about it and just discovering the different elements of the story, the twists and turns as well as trying to decipher the different parts of the mystery. And I am definitely going to have to read more Lisa Jewell books! This book has definitely put her on my radar and she has quite a few backlist books to enjoy as well as keeping an eye out for her future releases.


Book #124 of 2019


3 responses to “Review: The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

  1. Cherie Corbett-Jones says:

    Hi, I’m so glad to hear that you enjoyed this. I’ve been a big Lisa Jewel fan for a while now. Her earlier books are a bit to chick-lit like for me but I’ve really enjoyed The third wife, The true story of Melody Brown and I found you (these last two both deal with amnesia). Then she was gone and Watching you are both brilliant. Hopefully I’ve made your TBR a little longer because since I’ve started reading your blog my list has become very long! Thanks for all the great reviews! Cherie

  2. Anna Malone says:

    I have to say this was one of my least favourite Lisa Jewell novels… I was expecting some sort of big twist towards the end, which didn’t eventuate. I found it hard to believe that Libby so readily accepted her newfound family, especially some members (without giving away spoilers), whose previous actions would forever leave me thoroughly creeped out at best…
    If I had to pick my favourite Lisa Jewell novel, I’d definitely say ‘And Then She was Gone’, I’d highly recommend it, but have tissues ready at hand…

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