Monday, January 4, 2021

The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins

Synopsis (via Goodreads): 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 received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

Everything about this book was fast! The story, the characters (wink-wink, if you know what I mean), the revelations - it was a rollercoaster from start to finish. The Wife Upstairs had me hooked from the very first page, and I'm still thinking about it days later. Nice job, Rachel Hawkins! I loved the Hex Hall series (and I think she's hilarious on Twitter), so I had high hopes for this book from the start. Thankfully, it was a blast to read! This was also the first book I read in 2021, so hopefully it sets a precedent for the rest of the year. 

I both loved and hated how open-ended the conclusion was. It fits with the rest of the story, but I like resolution when I finish a book. However, I did like the ending we were given for the story that was written. It made sense, was completely believable, and I thought it really worked for the book. I just like knowing - definitively and without lingering questions. Hawkins has successfully left me wanting more, even though I don't think I would've liked the book as much had I gotten what I wanted. I clearly have very complicated feelings about this book! 

Normally, I don't re-read suspenseful books or mysteries, but I can see myself re-reading this one in the future. I thoroughly enjoyed the Alabama setting and the southern references (being from Texas, I could relate), although the rich people problems were new-to-me (hah). Seriously, how are they not bored the majority of the time? They don't work themselves, yet they need someone to walk their dog once a week? Also, why would you only have your dog walked once a week when they need daily exercise? But I digress (something I've always wanted to say, haha). Did that make me sound posh? ๐Ÿคฃ

If you like suspenseful books that keep you on your toes, The Wife Upstairs delivers a satisfying story with interesting characters. I felt like I had a good handle on what was going on and where I was being led, so I was always pleasantly surprised when something or someone threw a wrench in my imaginings. I would be thinking it was the butler with a lamp in the parlor, but then Hawkins would have them do something that made me question everything I thought I knew - especially when we get snippets from Bea's POV.

Also, Jane isn't a particularly likable character, and her veiled (oh-so-slowly revealed) past was always hovering over her shoulder, but I could relate to most of her actions and understand her choices. She's always had to look out for herself, so that's what she does. She makes sure she's going to be okay, and if that means molding herself to be what someone else wants, at least she'll have a warm bed to sleep in at night. I also didn't hate Eddie, but thought his immediate interest in Jane was suspicious. He's much older than her, his wife had disappeared less than a year ago (more like half a year), and he knew nothing about her when he decided to buy a dog and employ her services. It all happened so quickly, and I still can't figure out why. Jane's motives made sense - she wanted to be taken care of and kept safe. Eddie? What did he gain from that relationship? Especially with everything else going on in his life... 

The Wife Upstairs is easily one of my favorite reads, so keep this book in mind when you're looking for something to grab this year! I have a feeling we're going to need ALL the good books in 2021. (★★★★☆)

*this post has been backdated


  1. Well, that definitely sounds like a good one.

  2. Lovely review, thanks for sharing your thoughts

  3. I love Jane Eyre, how did I miss this retelling? Definitely adding to my TBR!

  4. I'm excited to read this one because I love Rachel Hawkins' voice. This sounds really good and growing up, I loved Jane Eyre so I'm excited for this! I'm glad that it delivered!

    1. YES! I loved her Hex Hall series when I read it years ago (should probably do a re-read, tbh), so I was excited when I found out she was writing Adult. Hawkins definitely delivered! The characters weren't lovable, but I think that was point. Although, she did nail the rich southern suburban community vibe. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  5. I keep seeing this one around, but for some reason I thought it was going to be too much like Girl on a Train for some reason. Your review has me interested!

    1. I haven't read Girl on a Train so I can't compare the two! You'll have to let me know what you think if you give this one a go. <3


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“Stuff and nonsense. Nonsense and stuff and much of a muchness and nonsense all over again. We are all mad here, don't you know?”
― Marissa Meyer, Heartless