Book Reviews Contemporary

The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins

Book Summary

Meet Jane. Newly arrived to Birmingham, Alabama, Jane is a broke dog-walker in Thornfield Estates—a gated community full of McMansions, shiny SUVs, and bored housewives. The kind of place where no one will notice if Jane lifts the discarded tchotchkes and jewelry off the side tables of her well-heeled clients. Where no one will think to ask if Jane is her real name.

But her luck changes when she meets Eddie­ Rochester. Recently widowed, Eddie is Thornfield Estates’ most mysterious resident. His wife, Bea, drowned in a boating accident with her best friend, their bodies lost to the deep. Jane can’t help but see an opportunity in Eddie—not only is he rich, brooding, and handsome, he could also offer her the kind of protection she’s always yearned for.

Yet as Jane and Eddie fall for each other, Jane is increasingly haunted by the legend of Bea, an ambitious beauty with a rags-to-riches origin story, who launched a wildly successful southern lifestyle brand. How can she, plain Jane, ever measure up? And can she win Eddie’s heart before her past—or his—catches up to her?

I want to give a big thank you to Macmillian audio and NetGalley for giving me a copy of the audiobook to listen to.

It has been ages since I first read Jane Eyre and I don’t remember much of it but this novel is supposed to be a modern retelling of the classic. Many of the things I look for in a Southern Gothic tale are missing from this book. The atmosphere, the creep factor and the high tension of “what is happening?!?” were not executed well.

That being said, this is a book that is addicting to read. It is fast paced and well written. There are so many twists and turns that I didn’t see all of them coming. Once you start this book, you will be loathe to put it down.

What is true to many Gothic classics is the presence of unlikable characters. You never know who to trust or if the person/people presented are actually the good guy. Do you root for this morally grey character? Is their bad outweighed by the “antagonists” bad?

I did like that this story was a slow unraveling of everything that culminates in the ending. However, I blazed through this book and didn’t get that sense of dread that usually comes with tales like this.

Rachel Hawkins
Macmillan Audio, Jan 5, 2021
Mystery | Contemporary | Retelling

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