Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Review - The Family Upstairs

Author:  Lisa Jewell
Genre:   Psychological Thriller
Publisher:   Atria Books
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:  464
Date of Publication:  October 29, 2019
My Rating:  4 Stars



You thought they were just staying for the weekend. They looked harmless enough – with only two suitcases and a cat in a wicker box.

But soon things turn very, very dark. It happens slowly, yet so extraordinarily quickly.

Now you and your sister must find a way to survive…


In this intense psychological suspense by Lisa Jewell you have three principal characters, Libby, Lucy and Henry. They are each separated by chapters in varying points of view. As you read my introduction to these characters you might be a bit thrown off. Even though they are all principal players, readers will be forced to wait to see how their stories are all blended into one another.

Let's start with Libby Jones. She is a resident of the UK and has been aware of a trust that was created in 1977. The strict rules included things would not be revealed to her until she turned twenty-five. Now she is finally able to discover some facts about her past. At that time, there was a property in Chelsea that she has just inherited. A couple was killed, and two teens were missing. It is at this point that Libby is told that they were her birth parents and that she has two siblings.

Then we have Lucy. Lucy is the mother of two children, Marco, 12, and Stella, 5. Lucy gets an odd text that simply states: "The baby is 25." Lucy and her children are struggling. They are homeless and they go from place-to-place to eat and to try and find places to sleep. Although she struggled to get away from her ex-husband, she still longs to return to London.

Lastly, readers are introduced to Henry Lamb. He talks of his parents and then of a woman named Birdie who visited his house while he was a child. Henry, as it turns out, is part of the trust that Libby is being told about. We briefly learn about his father Harry and other things that happened during Henry's childhood.

The readers are taken on a journey of alternating viewpoints told in both the past and the present which allow for several revelations to be revealed. Quite naturally, everyone is connected and there is a deep exploration into the family drama that affects them all. I want to add to this review that the fact that it is a psychological thriller, and combined with the title, The Family Upstairs, it simply did not gel. When it came to the fact that Henry grew up in a cult-like environment, it became easier to see what actually happened back in 1977 when the deaths occurred and how that affects everyone now, 25 years later.

I always enjoy books by Lisa Jewell, but I must admit to having a bit of a hard time waiting for this book to gain traction. I was especially enticed and fully committed when the house began to be explored. The pieces are jumbled at first but quickly begin to fall into place. I was definitely intrigued and couldn't put this book down until I read it from cover-to-cover. There is some sadness and emotion, especially regarding Lucy and her children, and also for some of the things that Henry experienced as a child.

Many thanks to Atria Books and to NetGalley for this ARC to review in exchange for my honest opinion.


Lisa was born in London in 1968. Her mother was a secretary and her father was a textile agent and she was brought up in the northernmost reaches of London with her two younger sisters. She was educated at a Catholic girls’ Grammar school in Finchley. After leaving school at sixteen she spent two years at Barnet College doing an arts foundation course and then two years at Epsom School of Art & Design studying Fashion Illustration and Communication.

She worked for the fashion chain Warehouse for three years as a PR assistant and then for Thomas Pink, the Jermyn Street shirt company for four years as a receptionist and PA. She started her first novel, Ralph’s Party, for a bet in 1996. She finished it in 1997 and it was published by Penguin books in May 1998. It went on to become the best-selling debut novel of that year.

She has since written a further nine novels, as is currently at work on her eleventh.

She now lives in an innermost part of north London with her husband Jascha, an IT consultant, her daughters, Amelie and Evie and her silver tabbies, Jack and Milly.


  1. Great review, this looks intense and my kind of read.

  2. I don't mind a book that has separate stories that eventually reveal their link. I think I will give this one a go.

  3. Glad to see your review - I have this one waiting on my cloud

  4. I just saw this one the other day on bookstagram...very intriguing!

  5. I really loved Then She Was Gone so I can't wait to read this one!

  6. This sounds intense. I am curious to know how it unfolds. Glad.you enjoyed it.

  7. I love a good thriller. Great review!

  8. I don't read many psychological thrillers but I am a sucker for a book with multiple POVs :) Sounds great!

  9. Great review Robin, I am glad that overall you enjoyed reading this book. This book looks and sounds like my kind of book I need to check it out one day. Thank you so much for sharing your awesome post.