January 4, 2021
The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins
Genre/Categories: domestic suspense, psychological thriller
*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.
Thanks, #NetGalley @MacmillanAudio @Macillan.Audio for a complimentary e ARC of #TheWifeUpstairs for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
A twisty, slow-burn, domestic suspense story inspired by Jane Eyre.
Plain but street smart Jane has aged out of the foster care system and is struggling to make it on her own in a small suburb of Birmingham, Alabama. After a brief stint in a coffee shop, she becomes a dog walker in the upscale, gated community of Thornfield Estates. She supplements her income by stealing jewelry and other small items from her clients. One day while walking through the estates, she meets Eddie Rochester, a rich widower, whose wife recently died in a boating accident. Their insta attraction is complicated because Jane is running from her past and Eddie has secrets of his own.
Genre/categories Description:s The Wife Upstairs is described as a twisty retelling of Jane Eyre with southern charm. I didn’t experience typical southern charm in the book (southern, yes; charm, no) and if you pick it up with charm in mind, you might be disappointed. Retellings are tricky. From my viewpoint, it’s a very loose retelling. A few names, a parent-less girl, and a wife that’s hidden away (title) are the main tie-ins with Jane Eyre (at least from what I can remember from reading it years and years ago). It’s also described as a fast-paced thriller. My reading experience is that it was a slow burn with a some suspense near the end. All in all, I think I would categorize it as domestic suspense inspired by Jane Eyre.
(this paragraph may contain spoilers)
Unlikable characters: I admit, I like at least one likeable character in my stories. Told from three perspectives (Jane, Bea, and Eddie), The Wife Upstairs doesn’t have one likable character. From what I remember of Jane Eyre, she was somewhat likable. I think the author does a good job in developing complex characters with good and bad sides. I could understand Jane’s and Eddie’s motivations for their actions, but I could not understand Bea and my feelings about her changed significantly from the beginning to the end of the story. You will like this if you love unlikable characters!
Content Consideration: R for Language. While The Wife Upstairs doesn’t have graphic depictions of murder, open-door sexual encounters, or nightmare-inducing scary moments, the story does include a significant amount of profanity. It seems like every other sentence contains an F-bomb. This may have been more pronounced since I listened on audio and my eyes can skim over offensive language more easily than my ears. Excessive profanity may not offend other readers, but it bothered me to the point that I wondered if the author lacked alternative vocabulary in her writing toolbag. If excessive profanity doesn’t bother you, you might experience this story quite differently than I did. Honestly, many other reviewers haven’t even mentioned this, so a distaste for profanity-laden prose is definitely a personal preference. If you don’t appreciate the profanity but still want to read the book, I suggest the print version where it’s easier to skim words.
Personal Pet Peeve: I am usually annoyed when an author inserts her/his own political opinions/agenda into a story. There is at least one instance of this at about the 80% mark: “Tripp is many ugly things–a drunk, a lech, a Republican–but a murderer still doesn’t fit him.” In a year of a contentious election and widespread division, I don’t see any value in including this hateful remark about republicans. I see hate all over social media (from both parties) and I don’t need this type of statement to pop up in my escapist reads. The profanity and the political agenda affected my rating for this story.
Overall: In consideration of the thriller genre, I feel this was very mild which is just my speed! If it weren’t for the profanity, I might have bumped up my rating. The Wife Upstairs has received other very favorable ratings and I would encourage you to read more reviews. I consider myself an outlier with my opinion. If you have specific questions, I’d be happy to answer them in the comments.
Star Rating: 3 Stars (2.5 rounded up)
The Wife Upstairs Information Here
Meet the Author, Rachel Hawkins
Rachel Hawkins (www.rachel-hawkins.com) was a high school English teacher before becoming a full-time writer. She lives with her family in Alabama, and is currently at work on the third book in the Hex Hall series.
Is The Wife Upstairs on your TBR or have you read it?
Happy Reading Book Buddies!
“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke
“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes
“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text
Let’s Get Social!
Thank you for visiting and reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along (see subscribe or follow option), promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.
Find me at:
***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price.
Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.
Book Cover and author photos are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.
I definitely think swear words are worse when listening to an audiobook Carol. I was very shocked whilst listening to The Wives last year, even though I really enjoyed the story.
I suspected that the audio made it much worse, although I still wouldn’t have liked it in print!
You’re totally right about the political statement, I also peeve when an author pushes their opinion on a political or social agenda
So annoying and unnecessary!
Dang – I’m sorry this one wasn’t even remotely what you were expecting.
Honestly, without all the profanity it was an ok read! The publishers blurb is a bit misleading though!
I’ve encountered that recently too and I’m not an overly bug fan of comparing books to others. It’s like they can’t stand on their own synopsis anymore.
Ha! My biggest dislike is when books are compared to Eleanor Oliphant! They always get it wrong….and nothing can compare!
I’d trust your reviews implicitly–and this was a good–and a fair one!
Thank you so much! It was hard to write!
[…] Carol from Reading Ladies […]
Thanks so much Debbie! 🙌😍
Excellent review Carol. Love how you explain everything. Not so sad I missed out on this now. ❤📚
If you do read it, don’t read by audio. I think print will be better for this one and easier to skim. Unless you’re good with FBombs. One reviewer said there are over 600! 😂
Thanks, but I think I will skip this one. ❤📚
I loved this one but I do see your points! Each book hits each person differently.
Reading is a personal experience for sure!
I don’t like it when books are pitched as retellings and then end up being “very loose” or not very similar.
I’m not usually a fan of retellings. It seems like they are difficult to pull off! One I did like was Ayesha At Last….a retelling of Pride and a prejudice.
[…] 3 Stars. Contemporary women’s fiction. Thriller. A loose retelling of Jane Eyre. My review of The Wife Upstairs. […]
Jane Eyre is my favorite novel. This sounds interesting!
You might like this one! 👍
[…] DNF. Some books I’ve encountered where the profanity has ruined my reading experience include The Wife Upstairs, Mom Jeans and Other Mistakes, The Operator (DNF), and Nothing to See Here […]