The Family Upstairs
A mansion in London’s fashionable Chelsea has three dead people lying on the kitchen floor, while a perfectly well fed and looked after baby lies in a cot on the first floor. The three people had been dead for several days. There is no one else when the police arrive at the scene.
Who are these three people and why are they dead? Who looked after the baby? Is there something more to this than meets the eye?
“I know it sounds like it was all just a terrible disaster. Of course it does. Any situation involving four dead bodies is clearly far from ideal.”
― Lisa Jewell, The Family Upstairs
The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell is a psychological thriller that is primarily about a family and a house filled with secrets. The story runs at a steady pace and it has multiple storylines.
The story shifts its perspective (primary focus) between three important characters at the end of each chapter. While it seemed hard to get used to this narrative shift at the beginning, it gradually made me look forward to the next character’s perspective.
The first perspective is of the character named Libby. She has just turned 25 and this birthday would unveil so many new information regarding herself and her true family. This was the perfect way to string the story henceforth and the author did a good job with that.
I loved Libby. She was so well written. She is career driven and it was so wholesome when she met the love of her life. He was not a stereotypical boyfriend type of a man and it looked mature.
The second perceptive is of Lucy’s. Right off the bat, we realize Lucy is having a hard time. She is broke and she is on the streets figuring out her sleeping situation for the night, with her two kids and a dog.
This is where the connection between Lucy and Libby is hinted. The relation between the two however would be unveiled much later.
While I loved Libby for some reason, I realized I loved Lucy even more. She had been in the worst situations throughout her life but she still chose to fight for her kids and somehow get back to London.
There is a subplot when it comes to Lucy and it just stopped somewhat abruptly. I kept thinking about it even after the book finished. Turns out, there is a sequel of this book coming in June 2022 with that subplot at its center. I am so eager to get my hands on that book!
Seems like you enjoy thrillers, read the review of As Good As Dead here: As Good As Dead – A thrilling finale to the series!
The third perspective is of Henry Jr’s. Almost the entire book, he narrates the past leading up to the death of the people on the kitchen floor. This perspective or rather this character was a puzzle to me. I kept trying to put the pieces together and then I jumble them up again trying to figure out the final picture. He is a complex character and he was low-key terrifying to me by the time I came to the end of the book.
The very last line of this book (which is his line) shook me to the core. It was chilling because this man (Henry Jr) is subtle with his creepiness and apparently, the sequel starts exactly where this book ends.
I have a feeling that this man is up to no good. He has issues.
“It all happened so slowly, yet so extraordinarily quickly, the change to our parents, to our home, to our lives after they arrived. But that first night, when Birdie appeared on our front step with two large suitcases and a cat in a wicker box, we could never have guessed the impact she would have, the other people she would bring into our lives, that it would all end the way it did.
We thought she had just come to stay for the weekend.”
― Lisa Jewell, The Family Upstairs
The book made me feel empathetic towards the Lamb Family. It showed how the “outsiders” slowly invaded their home and their minds and took over everything. This entire story seemed like a twisted fate, where no one could do anything and had to bear the fall.
There is this black and white contrast between the two characters, Henry Jr and Lucy. They both had gone through almost the same struggles but one chose to heal from it slowly while the other had developed some underlying mental issues was fascinating to me as a reader.
Overall, I loved this book and I would rate it 4 on 5. I am looking forward to reading the sequel and trying to piece Henry Jr’s character again.