The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell Review!

This book! Someone needs to make this into a film or a short series.🎭

As before, there will be spoilers in this review so if this is on your TBR List, stop reading!

We meet Libby who has just inherited a mansion in Chelsea, London. A mansion in which she was found abandoned in 25 years ago. A mansion where 3 decomposing bodies were found, two of which include her parents….dun! dun! duuuuun!

I totally Googled the address, this is what I found! That alone looks so nice!

The story is told from different perspectives from Lucy, Henry & Libby which gives a lot of depth to the characters and it also helps you understand them better. Libby is set on finding out what really happened to her birth parents and as a result dark & twisted secrets are revealed.

The book flips between the past & present, I think this was a great touch and it helped so much in truly understanding the mindset of these young children who were stuck in this life chosen by their parents.

Through Henry we get an insight into the past, to the moment David & Sally with their children Clemency & Phineas (Phin) and a musician Birdie and her partner Justin move into the Chelsea home to stay with Henry, his sister Lucy and the Lamb family. It’s not long till the family becomes disconnected from their ‘normal’ life. The children begin to be homeschooled, over time all the house belongings are sold and an explanation “we should live live more simply” is given. Through Henry’s eyes we are able to see that soon the house feels more like a cult, different variations of herbs are grown in the garden, bizarre rules are implemented, clothes and shoes are donated to charity, no one can leave the house and everyone starts to wear home made black robes! Let’s also not forget the charming David who seems to be the puppeteer. To say a lot happens in an understatement! Fast forward 4 years and we have 3 dead adults, well 4 but no one ever found Birdie and 4 missing children and one baby. David himself, was quite a chilling character, hungry for control and power, his necessity to obtain this through any means necessary often left me fearing for the life of the children. He was such a manipulative character, loving and charming when it suited him, yet cold and calculating underneath.

At first I was a little confused as I wasn’t entirely sure how the characters were all interlinked. I think the character that confused me the most was Lucy and I think this was just down to her being in based in France. You do quickly begin to understand her significance. We soon come to realise she is one of the 4 missing children! I think it was such a great idea to have both her and Henry involved as the narrators as you could see different paths the children took after their escape from the house. Sadly for Lucy, she was met with more violence in her life, unlucky in love and on the streets of France playing the fiddle, with hope of collecting enough money to feed her children and dog. Henry on the other hand, although also unlucky with love and a victim of violence, did everything in his power to get back into the position of wealth David took from him. Both were waiting for the day the ‘baby turned 25’, Libby’s birthday – the day she would be told of her inheritance.

I must also say, I enjoyed Miller’s character, his investigative journalism really helped to get things in motion, he was that push that Libby needed in times of uncertainty. I felt like she needed a protector, I couldn’t shake away the feeling that something bad might happen to her.

The moment the family was reunited was so sweet, it actually made me feel a little emotional, it was heartbreaking but so sweet. I did wonder if Henry would eventually flip the switch and kill everyone so that he can get the inheritance. Am I the only one? I’m still not very trusting of him!

Lastly, without giving too much away, Libby’s real birth parents? that was a shock, I actually didn’t see that coming!

The last few pages between Henry and Phin- oh my gosh!

Also can we talk about Henry climbing back on the roof AS AN ADULT, finding Birdie’s mummified body in the drain! Where he put it 25 years ago! and then taking her bones, putting them in a black bag and dropping it into the Thames? Why did no one address this?? It was mentioned so casually and no one seemed to actually register what was said! Henry low key made me feel uncomfortable.

Overall, it was such a good read, definitely a page-turner! The first few chapters were a tad slow but I think once all the families moved in, things began to get very interesting!

There will be a part 2 to this book, I think to be released in 2022. How do we feel about this?

I feel like the story will focus on the journey to Africa, where Libby can reunite with her father but I also feel like Henry will have some dark ulterior motive behind him seeing Phin again. I’m interested to see how the story develops!

What are your theories??

Thanks for checking in!

Kamila 🙂


The Switch by Beth O’Leary – Review!

This is a book I recently read and I wanted to do a little review about it, there will be spoilers so if this is on your TBR List, stop reading!

We meet Leena, a young businesswoman working for a firm in London and her grandmother Eileen, who lives in Hamleigh in Harksdale. It is a made up village but the author has said it was inspired by a village she visited in the south of the Yorkshire Dales. After a quick Google search this is the sort of village I am picturing!

Within the first few chapters we come to realise Leena’s sister Carla has passed away and left a massive void in everyones lives. Leena has a very strained relationship with her mother and Grandma Eileen’s husband, Wade has recently left her for a dance instructor. Eileen refuses to mope around and decides to seek love and passion, sadly there isn’t many compatible bachelors in her village! After a big presentation at work goes terribly for Leena she is given a 2 month sabbatical from work and escapes to Yorkshire to see her grandma. The two decide a change of scenery would be a fabulous idea and so Grandma Eileen goes on a big adventure to London, looking for love while Leena stays in Yorkshire engrossing herself into village life & meeting a rather distractingly handsome schoolteacher.

Leena meets the Neighbourhood Watch Committee and becomes involved in their activities and May Day celebration planning. We are introduced to a funny bunch of elderly ladies and gents who show amazing strength and support in really tough situations. Leena learns to how live life in the slow lane and befriends her elderly next door neighbour with whom she meets up for a daily coffee catch up.

Meanwhile, Eileen meets Leena’s friend Bee who helps her compile a dating profile and before long, messages are flooding in from all types of interested chaps! Eileen cannot resist meddling in other people’s lives and soon becomes friends with all her neighbours including isolated Letitia (who turns out to be a total gem with a fabulous vintage home!) It’s not long till Eileen is inspired to create a Silver Shoreditch Social Club, a social space for people within her age group who can meet for coffee, to read or just to have a chat with like minded individuals. A little sanctuary in the busy capital, somewhere to feel less alone. Back in Hamleigh, Leena is trying to navigate her feelings towards her mother, who is Eileen’s daughter. The loss of her sister has created rage within her, blaming her mother for the death of her sister, thus creating a rift between the two. Like her grandmother, Leena cannot stop herself in meddling in the lives of the villagers and is soon caught up in challenges faced by the residents of Hamleigh village.

This book is about healing from loss. It is about love between friends and between family. It shows us two very different communities coming together through the help of both characters. In a place like London, we are used to dodging people and having the bare minimum conversation with strangers, especially with our neighbours. Eileen has no filter, she is courageous and witty and encouraging and she decides to befriend everyone in her apartment complex. She is an extremely likeable character and you find yourself wanting to meet her! Traditionally, grandmothers are portrayed as more strict & uptight, whereas in this book it is Leena who has these qualities. It was very interesting to see Leena’s behaviour change throughout the book. In the early stages of her stay in Hamleigh, her mentality was very much “get stuff done and go home” whereas towards the end it felt like she wasn’t ready to leave. Hamleigh helped her heal in more ways than one.

What I loved about this book is how easy it was to relate to the characters. I very much enjoyed seeing the narrative from two different perspectives. Usually if books are written in a dual narrative, we have main characters within a similar age group, so it was lovely to see the contrast between the two ladies. They had a lot of things in common but very different ways to go about things and it was nice see Eileen live a life she dreamt of having when she was younger.

This book makes you realise the significance of family but also the significance of taking a break to self-reflect and to pause, to remember to put yourself first, allowing yourself to heal and grow.

The Switch had me giggling & it had had me tearing up a few times. It was such a heart-warming read; it was simply impossible to put down. I would definitely recommend this for a cosy night in with a cup of tea and a scented candle burning in the background.

Has anyone else read this? What were your thoughts?

Kamila 🙂