Book Reviews

The Family Remains by Lisa Jewell

Lisa Jewell is a new auto-buy author for me. I haven’t read any of her books that I haven’t enjoyed. (That feels like a really confusing sentence…) I think I was trying to use up some of my Kindle credits when I bought The Family Remains (Yes, before The Family Upstairs. Read the other blog for the full story.)

The Story

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa Jewell comes an intricate and affecting novel about twisted marriages, fractured families, and deadly obsessions in this standalone sequel to The Family Upstairs.

Early one morning on the shore of the Thames, DCI Samuel Owusu is called to the scene of a gruesome discovery. When Owusu sends the evidence for examination, he learns the bones are connected to a cold case that left three people dead on the kitchen floor in a Chelsea mansion thirty years ago.

Rachel Rimmer has also received a shock—news that her husband, Michael, has been found dead in the cellar of his house in France. All signs point to an intruder, and the French police need her to come urgently to answer questions about Michael and his past that she very much doesn’t want to answer.

After fleeing London thirty years ago in the wake of a horrific tragedy, Lucy Lamb is finally coming home. While she settles in with her children and is just about to purchase their first-ever house, her brother takes off to find the boy from their shared past whose memory haunts their present.

As they all race to discover answers to these convoluted mysteries, they will come to find that they’re connected in ways they could have never imagined.

In this masterful standalone sequel to her haunting New York Times bestseller, The Family Upstairs, Lisa Jewell proves she is writing at the height of her powers with another jaw-dropping, intricate, and affecting novel about the lengths we will go to protect the ones we love and uncover the truth.

My Thoughts

I absolutely preferred The Family Upstairs. The second book in the series was good, but it got a bit boring in places (all that searching and chasing) and felt . . . unnecessary on the whole.

These books were published three years apart (give or take). The first book came out in 2019, and it maybe felt like The Family Remains was a ‘Rona project (published in 2022). I’m not projecting that though, and I don’t read acknowledgements so I’m very probably wrong.

In order to continue the story, Lisa Jewell essentially had to add in a whole new story to the novel. Then, she had to try and get it to relate to the original story as well as those original characters who carried on into the second book. I think that’s why it felt a bit unnecessary.

The blurb says it’s a standalone sequel. I think you might miss out on just a bit of the dynamics between characters if you don’t read The Family Upstairs first, but I also think you’d be okay.

Was it a good book? Absolutely. I still gave it four stars. However, I’m obviously going to compare the two, and The Family Upstairs was just better than The Family Remains.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, so I may receive a small commission from sales generated.