Published: November 2019
Author: Lisa Jewell
Published by: Century Publishing
Length: 449 pages / 9 hrs 37 minutes
Reading dates: 6-12 March 2023
In a large house in London’s fashionable Chelsea, a baby is awake in her cot.
Well-fed and cared for, she is happily waiting for someone to pick her up.
In the kitchen lie three decomposing corpses. Close to them is a hastily scrawled note.
They’ve been dead for several days.
Who has been looking after the baby?
And where did they go?
Two entangled families.
A house with the darkest of secrets.
The book begins with Libby, a woman who has she turns 25, receives a letter from a solicitor telling her she has inherited a huge town house in Chelsea. On visiting the solicitor she finds out what happened – her parents were found dead in a suicide pact in the house, their teenage children were never found and a baby called Serenity was left behind and that baby is Libby. Libby always knew she was adopted but to find out about her background is a huge shock.
Lucy is a woman living hand to mouth with her children Marco and Stella in France, scraping together money by busking with her violin. She has a violent and abusive ex husband (Marco’s father) and another absent ex in Stella’s father. She receives a notification from her phone calendar simply saying “The baby is 25” and knows she has to get back to England somehow.
From Henry we hear about his privileged childhood in a large London house with his sister and parents and how things change as various friends start to move in, including minor popstar Birdie and her partner Justin. Before long another family also move in, David, his wife and two children Phin and Clemency and it is then that things really change for the Lamb family.
I won’t say anymore as I don’t want to give anything away and having gone into this book without knowing the story, it made for a brilliant listen. Narrated by Libby, Lucy and Henry, we hear about the past from Henry and the present from Libby as she joins forces with a journalist to try and find out more about what happened to her real family.
I read a lot of Lisa Jewell books over 20 years ago including Ralph’s Party and One Hit Wonder and she was an author whose books I was always keen to borrow from the library! I listened to The Family Upstairs on audio and the narration was brilliant and the story was really sinister! I was completely engrossed in Henry’s story and what happened in the family home and was as keen as Libby to find out what happened.
The control David manages to impose on the adults of the family is astonishing but made to be completely believable and it is shocking the way they treat the children in particular. Another great book to listen to on audio, The Family Upstairs is a book that I listened to whenever I got the chance. I enjoyed all the characters narration equally and wanted to find out what happened! I’m now really keen to read the sequel, The Family Remains.
About the author
LISA JEWELL was born in London in 1968.
Her first novel, Ralph’s Party, was the best- selling debut novel of 1999. Since then she has written another nineteen novels, most recently a number of dark psychological thrillers, including The Girls, Then She Was Gone and The Family Upstairs and The Night She Disappeared, all of which were Richard & Judy Book Club picks.
Lisa is a New York Times and Sunday Times number one bestselling author who has been published worldwide in over twenty-five languages. She lives in north London with her husband, two teenage daughters and the best dog in the world.
Fab review! I’ve been meaning to read this one (and the sequel) for quite some time now… It’s good to hear you enjoyed it!
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