The Wife Upstairs

Jane Eyre turns dog walker and thief with a murky background, in a modern twist on the classic tale.

Book title

The Wife Upstairs

Author

Rachel Hawkins

Standalone or series

Standalone

First time reading this author?

Yes

Why I picked this

A modern twist on Jane Eyre sounded like a great premise. Jane always had a bit of a bite to her, but was constrained by the expectations of her time. A Jane with modern sensibilities who found out her fiancee was keeping his mentally unstable wife in the attic? That’s a great concept.

Review copy or purchase

Thanks to the author, publishers Harper Collins UK and NetGalley for access to read this for free. This is an honest and voluntary review.

What it’s about

Jane Bell is running away from something. She’s making ends meet by walking dogs for wealthy families in a gated community and stealing from them. Even her name is stolen. Then she meets Eddie Rochester, the attractive and charismatic widower who lost his wife in a tragic boating accident the year before. Can Jane rebuild her life into one which fits Eddie’s? Can she ever figure out what’s making the noise upstairs?

Review

When Jane meets Edward Rochester her life changes forever. But, the man who appears to be a widower is hiding a secret about what really happened to his wife.

Sound familiar? Well, not quite. This modern reimagining of Jane Eyre takes those elements of independent thinking which the original Jane Eyre showed flashes of, and develops Jane Bell. This Jane is a girl on the run from her old life, a dog walker and thief who has even stolen the name she uses.

The Eddie Rochester she meets when he almost knocks her down in the street isn’t looking for a governess. His wife Bea is missing presumed dead, believed to have drowned with her beat friend Blanche in a drunken boating accident.

 Jane moves in with Eddie in a whirlwind romance. She quickly has to readjust her life, trying to fit in with the society women who make up her new neighbours (and former dog walking clients). Curious Jane begins to hear rumours that things are not all that they appeared in the Rochester marriage. Bea’s successful lifestyle company borrowed heavily from her best friend’s life, and her relationships with both Eddie and Blanche had their tensions.

Jane begins to see a different side of Eddie, and is also aware of strange sounds in the house when no one should be upstairs.

While there are clearly familiar elements of this plot, there is also a sense of freshness which means that this book is never predictable. Jane Bell values her independence, she’s swept up by  the excitement of a new relationship and access to a home and money she could never dream of. But, she’s also suspicious of people. A life in a series of foster homes has developed her skills in reading people, and she senses that not everything is as it appears.

An enjoyable read I finished in one day. A fabulous tale whether you’ve read Jane Eyre or not.

Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.
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