Book Review: The Family Upstairs – Lisa Jewell

The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

About The Book

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?

My Review

The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell is a brilliantly written and compelling page turner of a book.

When Libby Turner turns 25 she inherits a house. Not just any house. A huge eight bedroom house in Chelsea. She was adopted as a baby after her birth parents died in a car crash, well, so she thinks – in fact the truth is far darker than that. The house has stood empty for the past quarter of a century, ever since three decomposing bodies were found in the kitchen and a baby was found alive and well in an upstairs room.

Libby discovers that her parents were George and Martina Lamb, a wealthy and glamorous couple who were the toast of London. They dropped out of society and years later were found dead on the kitchen floor alongside a third, unidentified man. What exactly happened in that house? And who was the man?

Told in multi person narrative from the perspective of Libby, Lucy – a woman living in France with her two young children struggling to make ends meet and a third protagonist Henry, we are propelled back in time to the events that took place 25 year ago. I love a multi-person narrative and a flashback, especially when they are done as well as this. Every chapter reveals a new question and a new puzzle to solve. I had no idea where it was going, how the characters fit together and what had happened which made it such a fun book to read.

As the book progresses and the secrets begin to be uncovered the subject matter becomes darker. It is a psychological thriller which deals with the darkness of human nature and is quietly terrifying at times. Lisa Jewell takes her characters to the brink, breaking down their psyche to examine what happens to a person when the unthinkable happens.

I know I am being cloak and dagger about the book and not really explaining much about the plot, but that is for the best, believe me. I knew very little about The Family Upstairs before reading it which meant that every twist, every turn, every OMG moment was a pleasure. It is very readable and moreish and is a book written by an author at the very top of her game.

If psychological thrillers are your thing then give The Family Upstairs a read. Clever, immersive and thrilling, what more do you want?

Where You Can Buy It

The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell was published by Random House on 8th August in both hardcover and ebook. My thanks to the publisher for providing a copy of the book via Netgalley.

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