The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell – a Book Review

In the past couple of years, I think I’ve read more Lisa Jewell books than any other single author. Each of her books is unique, plots and characters independent and easily distinguishable from one another. There are always plenty of twists and turns and mysteries to keep you reading. This particular book is no exception. There is a followup to this book to be released on August 9, 2022, so you can bet I’ll be reading it ASAP. I’ve already jotted it into my 2022 Most Anticipated New Release slot for my reading challenge.


From Goodreads: 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.


The Family Upstairs is told in alternating points of view and follows Libby, Lucy, one of the surviving four children who lived at Cheyne Walk 25 years prior, and first person correspondence from Lucy’s brother, Henry. As Libby attempts to unravel the mysteries held by the house, she’s unaware that her long-lost siblings are closing in. The three separate stories unfold slowly with Lucy and Libby providing details of the present and Henry providing details of the past to fill in the gaps. The result is superb and methodical story-telling. There’s no chance of getting bored or losing interest when there are so many questions to answer! The fact that it’s so well written and the characters are rich and compelling is just icing on the cake.

Part of this appeal and excitement of this book is the ambience. I just love stories about dark and drafty houses full of haunting secrets. For centuries now authors have been delighting audiences with the tingling sensations brought by the creepy and weird. We still show up for it for a reason. It works. Jewell does an amazing job incorporating these classic Gothic elements into the more modern family drama. There’s something to appreciate here for readers with differing tastes. Overall, I give this one 4 stars. Highly enjoyable and infinitely twisty.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Published November 5, 2019 (first published August 6, 2019) by Atria Books. ISBN 1501190105. Hardcover. 340 pages.


About Amy @ A Librarian and Her Books

I'm a law librarian from the state of Missouri and a graduate of Missouri State University and the University of Missouri-Columbia. My real passion is in fiction, which is why I started my blog to share my thoughts with other bibliophiles. I live with my husband and two wonderful children and a collection of furry feline companions.
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