Book Review: The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins

Book: The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins

Published January 2021 by St. Martin’s Press|304 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: None

Genre: Adult Mystery/Suspense

A delicious twist on a Gothic classic, Rachel Hawkins’s The Wife Upstairs pairs Southern charm with atmospheric domestic suspense, perfect for fans of B.A. Paris and Megan Miranda.

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?

With delicious suspense, incisive wit, and a fresh, feminist sensibility, The Wife Upstairs flips the script on a timeless tale of forbidden romance, ill-advised attraction, and a wife who just won’t stay buried. In this vivid reimagining of one of literature’s most twisted love triangles, which Mrs. Rochester will get her happy ending?

I really liked The Wife Upstairs!  I’ve really enjoyed her YA books, and I knew I had to read this one!

For a good part of the book, I kept thinking about how this book was like a modern day Jane Eyre.  Then I realized that it’s a Jane Eyre re-telling.  Honestly, it’s a great take on Jane Eyre- Jane is a dog-walker instead of a governess, and Bea is missing/assumed dead, but not really because she won’t stay buried.

There was a touch of mystery/suspense with what happened to Bea and Blanche.  Was it Tripp?  Was it Eddie?  Or was it someone else?  I won’t reveal that here, but it was interesting to see how everything unravels.

The book is mostly narrated by Jane, but we do have Bea take over narrating every once in a while, plus a few chapters from Eddie’s perspective.  It was good to see Bea, since her memory was everywhere.  She’s not what I expected, and neither was Eddie.  I don’t blame Jane for looking over her shoulder, but it seems like things are pretty good.  Jane didn’t have an easy life, but I’m glad things worked out for her in the end.  I hope she finds some peace and happiness, and that she stops looking over her shoulder, wondering if her past will ever catch up with her.

The setting was creepy, though fitting.  It felt suffocating at times, and of course, I couldn’t help but wonder what happened on the night Bea and Blanche were at the lake.  We find out, of course, and the whole time I was reading this book, I couldn’t shake the feeling that something wasn’t right.  With a neighborhood full of rich people, with gossipy housewives going to what felt like all the fundraisers and planning committees really worked as the cast of characters in this novel.  Honestly, I don’t blame Jane for wanting to fit in, and find home and friends and people who care about her.  But they don’t really seem like her people, and it seemed like she had to be someone she’s not just to fit in.  Also, I thought it was sad that marrying Eddie was the only way they’d truly accept her.

This is completely random but I couldn’t get no body, no crime by Taylor Swift out of my head.  Seriously, it popped into my head every single time I picked up this book.

If this book had a theme song, that one would be my first choice.

Not that I have another choice, at least one that I can come up with on the spot.  But I’m sure there are other songs that would fit the book really well.  And that cover is amazing!  I don’t know why, but I love it, and somehow, it fits the book as well.  I see it differently now that I’ve actually finished the book but either way, it’s still a great cover!

4 stars.  I really enjoyed this book, and thought the setting was both creepy and suffocating.  The mystery was great, and I like the unraveling mystery of what happened to Bea.

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