2.10.2022 | Thursday

The Wife Upstairs

category: Book Reviews

The Wife Upstairstitle: The Wife Upstairs
author: Rachel Hawkins
published: 5 January 2021
publisher: St. Martin's Press
genre(s): thrillers
pages: 220
source: Book of the Month
format: hardcover
buy/shelve it: Amazon | B&N | BookBub | Goodreads

rating: five-stars

the blurb

Meet Jane. Newly arrived to Birmingham, Alabama, Jane is a broke dog-walker in Thornfield Estates—a gated community full of McMansions, shiny SUVs, and bored housewives. The kind of place where no one will notice if Jane lifts the discarded tchotchkes and jewelry off the side tables of her well-heeled clients. Where no one will think to ask if Jane is her real name.

But her luck changes when she meets Eddie­ Rochester. Recently widowed, Eddie is Thornfield Estates’ most mysterious resident. His wife, Bea, drowned in a boating accident with her best friend, their bodies lost to the deep. Jane can’t help but see an opportunity in Eddie—not only is he rich, brooding, and handsome, he could also offer her the kind of protection she’s always yearned for.

Yet as Jane and Eddie fall for each other, Jane is increasingly haunted by the legend of Bea, an ambitious beauty with a rags-to-riches origin story, who launched a wildly successful southern lifestyle brand. How can she, plain Jane, ever measure up? And can she win Eddie’s heart before her past—or his—catches up to her?

my review

The Wife Upstairs kept me hooked from the first page! The book is a contemporary retelling of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, but it has a very different tone. While Brontë’s novel has a dark, brooding feel, this novel, while it has some dark moments, is far snarkier with a more feminist feel to it. It, to me, it is far more fast-paced. The author has a writing style that is very engaging. She writes in a way that flows and reads well, pulling readers into the pages and keeping them there. The story was full of twists, intelligently clever, and very suspenseful.

This is a novel in which the characters really make the story. And what makes this so extraordinary is that there isn’t a single character in the book that is wholly sympathetic. Not a main character, nor any of those supporting. Jane, Eddie, Bea—our three main characters—all of them deeply flawed in rather unappealing ways yet still somehow charming in their own individual ways.

Jane is new to Birmingham, Alabama, trying to build a new life for herself. So she she begins walking dogs for the wealthy elite in one of the richest communities in the area. It is a world of gossip, appearances, and a “bless your heart” kind of attitude. It’s also a place where shiny toys and baubles are there for the taking, which Jane frequently does. Her luck seems to change for the better when she meets Eddie, recently widowed after his wife Bea and her best friend drowned in a boating accident. For Jane, Eddie represents everything she wants most… opportunity and protection. But even as she begins to fall for him, there is still the shadow of Bea. And with that shadow comes a host of secrets.

The Wife Upstairs is a story about secrets, class, and the lengths one will go to hide the skeletons in their closets.

About Rachel Hawkins

Rachel Hawkins is the New York Times bestselling author of The Wife Upstairs, as well as multiple books for young readers, and her work has been translated in over a dozen countries. She studied gender and sexuality in Victorian literature at Auburn University and currently lives in Alabama.

Rating Report
Overall: four-half-stars

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