Book Reviews

The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

I had purchased The Family Remains not knowing that it was the second book in this series, just thinking it was a Lisa Jewell book I hadn’t yet read. When I was ready to read it, I saw it was #2 and obviously needed to read The Family Upstairs first. I AM SO GLAD I DID.

The Story

Soon after her twenty-fifth birthday, Libby Jones returns home from work to find the letter she’s been waiting for her entire life. She rips it open with one driving thought: I am finally going to know who I am.

She soon learns not only the identity of her birth parents, but also that she is the sole inheritor of their abandoned mansion on the banks of the Thames in London’s fashionable Chelsea neighborhood, worth millions. Everything in Libby’s life is about to change. But what she can’t possibly know is that others have been waiting for this day as well—and she is on a collision course to meet them.

Twenty-five years ago, police were called to 16 Cheyne Walk with reports of a baby crying. When they arrived, they found a healthy ten-month-old happily cooing in her crib in the bedroom. Downstairs in the kitchen lay three dead bodies, all dressed in black, next to a hastily scrawled note. And the four other children reported to live at Cheyne Walk were gone.

The can’t-look-away story of three entangled families living in a house with the darkest of secrets.

My Thoughts

Confession: I love cults. I’m so intrigued by people who basically give up everything to follow someone. It’s why When She Returned is one of my favorite Lucinda Berry books. That may be why I extra loved The Family Upstairs. (I made my mom read it too. She read it quickly, but didn’t particularly love it the same way that I did.)

Going into reading the book, know that there are a lot of characters. And, once things become more cultish, they’re even easier to get mixed up. However, I just kind of tried to “read past that” and accept whatever was happening in the moment, which made it all easier to follow (because I wasn’t following it?).

Honestly, this book had just about everything I look for in some of my favorite books. Dual timelines, mystery, a bit of romance without it being overly sexual (or sexual at all in this case), angst, AND THERE WAS NO SUBSTANCE ABUSE.

The Family Upstairs kept me engaged and I could hardly put the book down. We talked about it at book club recently, and the ladies there loved it too! Definitely a good choice if you’re looking for your next read.

Now, here’s what you probably came here to know. After reading The Family Upstairs, is it necessary to read The Family Remains? No. The story in the first book does wrap up fairly well. There’s no cliffhanger that “makes” you read the second book. Should you? Yes. (Full review available on the blog!)

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