Lisa Jewell - The Family Upstairs


This was our book of the month for June 2021 in the Dalgety Bay Book Club and it was enjoyed by most of those who read it. It's both a family saga and a psychological thriller and is a real page turner.


The story begins when Libby inherits a valuable, but derelict, house in Cheyne Walk, one of the most expensive streets in London. The house has been held in trust for her until her 25th birthday. She discovers she was found in the house as a baby, the sole survivor of a multiple suicide pact. Her two parents were found dead alongside an unidentified adult male. They were all dressed in strange robes and there were no other clothes or shoes and very few possessions in the house. It's clear something very strange had been going on but as there was no-one to claim the baby Libby, she was adopted and had a happy childhood and become a successful kitchen designer.


With the help of a journalist who wrote an article about the family, Libby finds out that her relatively wealthy mother and father had been taken in by a charismatic individual who had gradually cut the family off from the outside world, whilst stealing all of their money and selling all their possessions.


In parallel threads we follow the progress of Lucy, an impoverished musician, who is making her way back to London from the Cote D'Azur with her two children and uncover the story of what happened 25 years previously through flashbacks narrated by her brother Henry.


The characters are complex and mysterious and we meet them at different stages of their lives, with flashbacks narrated by Henry, one of the children from the house at Cheyne Walk, interspersed with the journeys of each the adult children as they make their way back to No 16.


It's a dark and thrilling tale, with many twists and turns, and lots of characters to keep track of, but an easy read and would make a great holiday book.

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