REVIEW: THE FAMILY UPSTAIRS BY LISA JEWELL

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Title: The Family Upstairs
Author: Lisa Jewell
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Fiction
Pages: 340
My Rating: 3 stars

 

THREE_CATS

 

This book was a relatively interesting and quick read, but it was lacking anything to truly make it stand out. The chapters are short and easy to burn through, and the characters are all unique enough that it is easy to become invested in their lives. The revelations along the way were satisfying when they were given, but they were slow to be revealed, and towards the end of the book I found myself wondering if I really even cared what the outcome ended up being.

 

“Libby laughs and takes a sip of wine. In another realm, this would constitute a brilliant night out: two handsome men, a warm summer’s night, a glamorous terrace overlooking the Thames, a glass of cold white wine. But in this realm, everything feels warped and vaguely threatening. Even the cats.”

 

Pros:
– murder, cults, secret staircases, mystery and mistaken identities
– unique characters from all walks of life
– unreliable narrators

Cons:
– plot moved slowly, not enough happened
– could have used more tension
– had nothing that made it really stand out

 

The mystery of the house is intriguing and there is enough going on/being revealed when it comes to character progression that the story stayed interesting enough to hold me til the end. The perspectives changed quite a bit, so as soon as you started getting into one narrative, the story jumped to another. The upside to following a number of different perspectives is that each one felt like a very real and distinct slice of life, and I found myself invested in each different storyline, but it also made the story move around too much and created a sort of timeline whiplash. The revelations came too slowly to completely hold my interest, and this felt like a very slow book throughout.

 

The different characters are almost all related to each other in some way, and exactly how they are related is pieced together as the story progresses. The desire to see how everything finally came together in the end is probably the main reason I finished the novel. I also was invested in them as individuals and wanted to find out how their lives were affected when everything was finally revealed. I think that if this novel was any denser or any longer, then I wouldn’t have had the patience to finish it.

 

“It’s very strange, looking back, how accepting children can be of the oddest scenarios. But still, seeing it now, in black and white, it really is quite shocking.”

 

My main takeaway when I finished this book was that it was an “alright” read. It was different enough from the books I’ve picked up recently to keep me reading til the end, the characters were well rounded enough to hold my interest, and the mystery of the house’s history was just strange enough to warrant reading all of the pages in search of a full explanation. The ending felt anti-climactic in my opinion, and I wasn’t surprised by the way almost all of it turned out. I probably won’t be recommending this novel to anyone, but overall I don’t feel like it was a waste of my time, and I did get some enjoyment out of reading it.

 

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