book club Book review fiction

Read and Review (R&R) – “The Madwoman Upstairs” by Catherine Lowell

Samantha Whipple, the last living Brontë descendant is used to stirring up speculation wherever she goes. Since her eccentric father’s untimely death, she is the presumed heir to a long-rumored trove of diaries, paintings, letters, and early novel drafts passed down from the Brontë family – a hidden fortune never revealed to anyone outside of the family, but endlessly speculated about by Brontë scholars and fanatics. Samantha, however, has never seen this alleged estate and for all she knows, it’s just as fictional as Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights.

But everything changes when Samantha enrolls at Oxford University and long-lost objects from the past begin rematerializing in her life, beginning with an old novel annotated in her father’s handwriting. With the help of a handsome but inscrutable professor, Samantha plunges into a vast literary mystery and an untold family legacy, one that can only be solved by decoding the clues hidden within the Brontës’ own works.

I’m all about scavenger hunts, but found this novel to be a slow burn. I did find Samantha’s wisecracking wittiness entertaining and I kept reading as my curiosity demanded to know would she find a fortune, and would her and her professor get together. No spoilers here, but if you read/enjoyed the Brontës, this might be the book for you. Friends that have read the Bronte books tell me that they enjoyed the references and theories about Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, Agnes Grey, and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. I have been told it is a modern retelling of Jane Eyre.

This book came out in 2016 and as of this writing, I don’t see any other books by this author.

By Carole Lynn Jones

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