The Family Upstairs – A Book Review

Lockdown is actually making me more productive and allowing me the time, freedom and inspiration to blog. Blogging isn’t for everyone and sometimes, I just can’t be bothered to sit down and write (I mean type). I’m very much an ‘in the moment’ blogger. I cannot schedule time to blog as the words just don’t seem to flow and it sounds forced. I’ve been working from home and in isolation with Tom and Hendricks so I have been getting back into the things I love. One of those things is reading. Before lockdown, I read sporadically, often picking up a book at bedtime but falling asleep halfway through a chapter. Now we have more time, we’re trying to keep the TV switched off during the day and be creative. I have a HUGE pile of books waiting to be read and I have, of course, added to it. None of us know how long we will be on lockdown for, so I wanted to make sure I was prepared! 

One of my latest reads is ‘The Family Upstairs’ by Lisa Jewell. It was the first book I had read by her, and I have to say I was very impressed. I saw it on a few different instagram accounts so I just had to order it! I love anything that is a mystery/ crime or thriller. The novel itself flips from past to present, with accounts from Libby, Lucy, and Henry. 

The story begins with Libby. She has just turned 25. When she was a baby, Libby was found in a large house in Chelsea, London among four dead adults. From there, she was adopted and brought up in a loving family. So it’s definitely a shock for her when she receives a letter from a solicitor stating that now she has turned 25, she has inherited said house. When she first visits the house, she hears a noise upstairs and runs out of the house, unaware of what or who is hiding in her family home. 

Alternating chapters then see us being introduced to a woman in France, Lucy and a young boy, Henry. Henry’s story is in the past however, starting in 1988 when he was due to begin secondary school. There are many twists and turns along the way that make you want to keep reading and hate certain characters. Henry’s family essentially become a cult and live a sheltered life in the early 1990’s. Their ‘leader’ David, is controlling, aggressive and manipulative. He stops Henry’s family leaving the home, essentially making them prisoners. They’re even forced to give up their shoes and clothing in favour of a home-made black smock and have a very strict, enforced diet. 

Lucy is a single mum of two and is homeless somewhere in the south of France. A message appears on her phone saying ‘the baby has turned 25’. From here, Lucy is desperate to escape the streets and dirt to find a way back to England. 

As the story progresses, so does the mystery surrounding what happened in the big house in Chelsea and what became of the children who were trapped within its walls. We know that a baby was discovered by the police amongst dead bodies. But we don’t know how they died. It was judged as a cult suicide, but Jewell is extremely clever in concealing how they met their fate, right until the end of the book. 

I personally found the book to be an intriguing page turner. I enjoyed the variety of characters and I didn’t get bored. Jewell left it on a bit of a cliff hanger, which I like as it lets the reader decide how the story ends. I would definitely read this again and have already lent it to a friend. My pile of books is depleting so I have ordered some more off Amazon. I’m going to try and blog more this week, and in the future. It’s good to keep focused and to be creative while I’m not really working much! 

Next up on the blog will definitely be food related! I’ve been cooking lots recently and have really loved having the time to do so! Thanks for reading! 


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