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Monday 7 June 2021

The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

I've read two Lisa Jewell books on the trot: this one followed The Night She Disappeared, which was my introduction to this author. And obviously, I was impressed enough to dive straight into another of her books.

This book has a couple of similarities: present-tense narrative (a stultifying bad choice), and a story told over two time frames. Okay, only two similarities and I may have coincidentally plucked two books from Jewell's works with the same ones, but it has wobbled my fandom just a smidge, if that's her m.o.

Adoptee, Libby, receives a life-changing letter on her twenty-fifth birthday in which she discovers her birth parents' identity and, more dramatically, that she has inherited a multi-million Chelsea mansion. A mansion that holds dark, life-changing secrets, secrets of events that took place twenty-five years earlier. What happened to the three dead bodies found in the kitchen? Why is there a healthy baby, alone, in a cot? Where are the other children neighbours said lived there? And what does it all mean for Libby?

It's a very compelling story with some extraordinarily compelling characters, and it's well told…for the most part: there were gaps and some 'what, really???' moments. Nevertheless, I did find myself eager to pick it up and read on. I'm not quite sure how I thought it would end, but it was all a bit too 'tidy'. Just a bit too happily ever after.

But…I did enjoy it. Jewell is quite the writer and, though you might not actually like some of her characters, she certainly gives them depth and dimension. When you can conjure up image a character in your head, that's certainly testament to a well-crafted portrayal.

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