The Wife Upstairs: A Novel

by Rachel Hawkins

Hardcover, 2021




St. Martin's Press (2021), Edition: First Edition, 304 pages


Fiction. Literature. Suspense. Thriller. HTML: Instant New York Times and USA Today Bestseller "Compulsively readable...a gothic thriller laced with arsenic." 末EW One of the Most Anticipated Books of 2021: CNN Newsweek Vulture PopSugar Parade BuzzFeed E!Online TimeOut Woman's Day Goodreads She Reads Good Housekeeping CrimeReads Frolic Hello! Mystery and Suspense January 2021 Indie Next Pick and #1 LibraryReads Pick A delicious twist on a Gothic classic, The Wife Upstairs pairs Southern charm with atmospheric domestic suspense, perfect for fans of B.A. Paris and Megan Miranda. Meet Jane. Newly arrived to Birmingham, Alabama, Jane is a broke dog-walker in Thornfield Estates末a gated community full of McMansions, shiny SUVs, and bored housewives. The kind of place where no one will notice if Jane lifts the discarded tchotchkes and jewelry off the side tables of her well-heeled clients. Where no one will think to ask if Jane is her real name. But her luck changes when she meets Eddie Rochester. Recently widowed, Eddie is Thornfield Estates' most mysterious resident. His wife, Bea, drowned in a boating accident with her best friend, their bodies lost to the deep. Jane can't help but see an opportunity in Eddie末not only is he rich, brooding, and handsome, he could also offer her the kind of protection she's always yearned for. Yet as Jane and Eddie fall for each other, Jane is increasingly haunted by the legend of Bea, an ambitious beauty with a rags-to-riches origin story, who launched a wildly successful southern lifestyle brand. How can she, plain Jane, ever measure up? And can she win Eddie's heart before her past末or his末catches up to her? With delicious suspense, incisive wit, and a fresh, feminist sensibility, The Wife Upstairs flips the script on a timeless tale of forbidden romance, ill-advised attraction, and a wife who just won't stay buried. In this vivid reimagining of one of literature's most twisted love triangles, which Mrs. Rochester will get her happy ending? A Macmillan Audio production from St. Martin's Press "A compulsively readable tale that flips Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre on its head...a gothic thriller laced with arsenic." EW .… (more)


½ (298 ratings; 3.6)

User reviews

LibraryThing member Cats57
Let me start by saying that I have never read the book that this is based on, which seems to be a good thing for me. That fact left me with no preconceived notions.

I found ALL of the characters unlikeable, and I couldn't identify with a single one of them. I don't believe that we were supposed to
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like or identify with any of them, so that is a point in the author's favor.

I enjoyed this book right up until the ending. Well, actually, in my opinion, there was no true ending, so a point against the author for that. I really wanted to know a little more about the future of Jane,
Bea and Eddie. But it was not to be unless there is going to be a sequel!

Since I have not read Jane Eyre and only know what I've heard about it, for all I know, this book might end the same as the original.

I'm starting to think that author's really need to come up with original ideas and leave the classics as they are.

*ARC supplied by the publisher and the author.
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LibraryThing member Mrsmommybooknerd
The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Holy man, this left me like窶掫hoa窶! The story had lots of twists and turns, up until the near end. It was very character and plot driven. You get to hear from a few characters as chapters/sections switch perspectives. I loved
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listening into it because it brought each character alive. This book was a really good suspense/mystery that was not over done or over written. It had everything within perfect measure. I am still processing all of it, which is true sign I loved a book! I highly encourage you to read/listen to this one!
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LibraryThing member SquirrelHead
Jane is new to the Birmingham Alabama area and is trying to start a new life. She has a secret about her past life, one she is running from, and this keeps you guessing about her past. She is employed as a dog walker in this ultra rich community where women casually discard their diamond earrings
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in a bowl as they enter their mansions. The neighborhood is basically full of millionaires who haven;t experienced hardship.

One day Jane is staring at one elegant home while walking a dog and Eddie Rochester careens out of his driveway, almost running Jane down. Eddie is newly widowed, very handsome and fit. Her invites Jane inside for coffee and apologizes for almost killing her. This is the start of the Eddie and Jane storyline.

The very title called The Wife Upstairs is a bit of a spoiler and that crazy scenario is revealed early in the book.

I was interested in this book because a Jane Eyre comparison was mentioned. It's not a ripoff story but you'll see a nod to the names and some of the relationships. Jane, Rochester, Bertha plus the poor character of Jane who had a horrid upbringing.

This story has mystery, two big twists in the narrative (be patient and wait for it!) and a warning to those who are offended by the F-bomb. It's not used as much as in The Big Lebowski but you've been forewarned :-) Doesn't bother me and was, in my opinion, approprite for the scenarios.
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LibraryThing member jmchshannon
The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins has plenty to offer for those familiar with Charlotte Brontテォ窶冱 Jane Eyre. What you might not realize is that it also has vibes from Daphne du Maurier窶冱 Rebecca. Given that I continually list both classics among my top five all-time favorite books I have ever
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read, you can bet I enjoyed every minute of Ms. Hawkins窶 story.

Ms. Hawkins does a fantastic job with her Jane Eyre retelling. She does not just modernize the story, but she has fun playing with the characters and settings. All of the characters in the original do make an appearance in The Wife Upstairs but not as you might expect. I loved seeing how Ms. Hawkins changed the characters and settings and made them her own.

At the same time, because Jane knows about Eddie窶冱 first marriage, as well as the constant state of comparison in which Jane finds herself, strongly reminds me of Rebecca. Bea was gorgeous, successful, beloved, wealthy. Jane is not. Jane moves into Eddie and Bea窶冱 house and does little to make any changes to the house to make it her own. At one point in time, Jane even finds herself mimicking Bea窶冱 style of dress and accessories. While there is no spooky and sinister housekeeper to undermine Jane窶冱 decisions, Bea窶冱 influence in her social sphere, now Jane窶冱, that it is as if Bea haunts Jane all the same.

Jane is a great character. She is not the meek Jane from Charlotte窶冱 story. Instead, she has tremendous street smarts and is particularly people-savvy. This makes her assessment of the country club set in which she now finds herself particularly entertaining and biting. All this to say that she enters into a relationship with Eddie Rochester with eyes wide open. Plus, she does so with her own agenda. After all, after a childhood in the foster system, it makes sense that a comfortable life filled with love is more than a little enticing.

For those unfamiliar with either story, take heart. You don窶冲 need to know Jane Eyre窶冱 story to enjoy The Wife Upstairs because at its heart it is also an exciting Southern thriller. The ending is anything but the foregone conclusion I expected it to be. Instead, I found myself guessing incorrectly at every turn, which is my personal hallmark of a great mystery. Plus, Ms. Hawkins slowly and steadily increases the tension, much like the proverbial frog in a pot. By the time you realize the danger Jane faces, your pulse is already racing and you are fully committed to the story.

The Wife Upstairs is a fantastic book to start the year. Fans of the Brontテォ classic will enjoy the reimagined version of the story Ms. Hawkins has to tell, and fans of Southern suspense will enjoy the atmospheric mystery surrounding Bea窶冱 death. Ms. Hawkins shows once again that she knows how to write compelling characters and entertaining stories.
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LibraryThing member BookDivasReads
Jane Eyre is one of my favorite classic novels and I was looking forward to reading this one, but what a disappointment. First, I found it difficult to get into the story because the beginning seemed to drag on and none of the characters seemed to have any redeeming characteristics (normally not an
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issue, but was quite off-putting here). Second, I just didn't like the story and it seemed to take forever to get to a point where it was even intriguing. Guess this just wasn't a good fit for me.
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LibraryThing member DrApple
A modern retelling of Jane Eyre, this novel has you thinking you know what is going on, then surprises you.
LibraryThing member fastforward
4.5 stars

There's nothing like reading a thriller full of crazy drama that you can just sit back and relax with and enjoy the show. It was a very fast read for me as I did feel invested in the story to want to see it all play out. If you can handle an unlikeable character, this book is worth picking
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Jane recently moved to Birmingham, Alabama and works as a dog walker for some families living in the ritzy section of town. She occasionally swipes something nice from the homes of her wealthy clients because hey, no big deal, they're rich. One day Jane meets Eddie Rochester and well, that's when things get interesting...

While Jane is not someone I would want to know in real life, she was a fascinating fictional character. The story is a good combination of things you are anticipating as well as a surprise or two thrown in there. I absolutely loved the ending although I have no idea if that is a popular opinion or not. I thought it was a bold choice by the author and to avoid giving away spoilers, I will just leave it at that.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an advance copy! All thoughts expressed are my honest opinion.
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LibraryThing member miss.mesmerized
Jane is on the run, she hasn窶冲 simply given up her old life, there are things which need to be forgotten und buried and never talked about. When she comes to Thornfield Estates, the McMansion area of Birmingham/Alabama, she sees a life which could hardly differ more from hers. Having grown up as
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a foster child, she has never known love and affection and surely not the riches she can observe in the families for whom she walks the dogs. One day, she meets Eddie Rochester who recently lost his wife Bea. They fall in love and suddenly, everything seems possible for Jane. Leading a carefree life, no worries about money anymore and a loving husband. But at times, she wonders if she sees something different, threatening in his eyes. Then, however, she remembers that she herself also has some secrets. Yet, there is a third person in that house also having secrets.

Rachel Hawkins does not hide that her novel is a modern version of Charlotte Bronte窶冱 窶廱ane Eyre窶. The names are identical and even parts of the characters窶 biographies show large similarities, only small Adティle has been turned into a dog. The plot is not set among the British upper class but among the newly rich who are driven by greed, egoism and the conviction that they can have it all.

What I liked about this version of the classic plot is that Rachel Hawkins created some unexpected twists which keep suspense high and make you reassess the characters. You can never be totally sure about who is good and who is bad, actually, they are all some dark shade of grey. I would have liked the protagonist to be a bit more complex, Jane remains a bit plain and shallow throughout the novel for my liking even though the other characters repeatedly consider her rather clever and strong. On the other hand, everything around Bea was quite surprising and I actually adored the utterly malicious character.

An enjoyable read with a lot of Jane Eyre to be found and some new aspects which added to the suspense.
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LibraryThing member fredreeca
Jane is determined to be a part of the elite. She is a dog walker but she wants to live like the people she works for. She meets Eddie one morning and her dream, all of a sudden, is within reach. But, Eddie窶冱 first wife, Bea, is ever present in their relationship. However, Jane is determined to
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be the one and only.

I enjoyed so much about this read! This story moves so quickly and takes the reader through all sorts of loops and flips. I didn窶冲 know whom to trust.

Jane is a character you want to trust and like but her motives are not exactly pure and honest. Then there is Eddie. As a reader you know something is just not right but you just can窶冲 put your finger on it. And finally there is the ghost of Bea窶ヲboy oh boy窶ヲ.you must read this to find out.

Talk about twisted and full of suspense. This one is it. Grab your copy today!

I received this novel from the publisher for a honest review.
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LibraryThing member brangwinn
I seldom like a book filled with so many unlikeable characters, but Rachel Hawkins has used their unpleasant characteristics to good advantage in this modern retake on Jane Eyre. You need not have read that classic to be quickly enmeshed in the story of Jane who moves to Birmingham Alabama to
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restart her life. Taking a job as a dog walker in a wealthy community, she becomes romantically involved with one of her clients and moves in with him as she prepares for their marriage. Her fiancテゥ窶冱 wife and her best friend have been murdered although the body of Eddie窶冱 wife has never been found. From the title, readers will guess correctly that Eddie has hidden Bea in a secure room upstairs. Lots of twists and turns and an unexpected ending make this one a stay up late to find out what happened. The audiobook adds to the suspense with great voice changes for the three narrators make it a very easy book for listening enjoyment.
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LibraryThing member SilversReviews
Jane was running from something in Arizona and running right into more trouble even though she didn't know it would be trouble.

Jane walks dogs for wealthy people, and one of the neighbors whose wife along with her friend drowned bought a dog so he could get close to Jane.

Jane jumped at the chance
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to walk Eddie Rochester's dog because she knew she could make him love her and be his next wife. Was she getting herself into something worse than what she left in Arizona?

For Jane, the rich, catty women were the worst, but Jane was getting her plan to work and into place. She nabbed a rich man; now all she had to do was become his wife.

Did Eddie have plans of his own, though, are they already in the works, or have they been carried out?

Then a wrench gets thrown in - the police find out his wife's friend was murdered, and they think Eddie's wife was too.

What will happen next? A lot happens.

Everyone in this book seems to have a secret, and they are ones that may be difficult to keep. They also are pretty good liars.

I would be sure to put this book in your is that good. 5/5

This book was given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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LibraryThing member mnicol
What if 窶廱ane Eyre窶 were set in the modern American South? That is what the Economist asked 窶 and proceeded to talk up what it termed 窶彗 modern take on a classic窶. I was initially diverted: St John Rivers, the moral blackmailer of the novel, was recast as creepy events co-ordinator at a
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struggling Baptist Church. But I must never again rely on the Economist for novel reviews. This is the third time I have been misled. The Kindle edition however was economical and simply appeared on my MacBook, after a 窶椀ne click窶 Amazon purchase.
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LibraryThing member bookczuk
Pandemic read. A tribute to Jane Eyre, in the format of the sudden spurt of "wife in the/wife of the/wives etc" genre. Read on recommendation.
LibraryThing member PaulaGalvan
This "who-dune-it" was an up-and-down thrill ride to the very end窶敗mart, sassy, and surprising. When Jane Bell, aka Helen Burns, shows up in the exclusive Thornfield Estates, she's running from a sorted past and hoping for a better future. She thinks life would be perfect if she could only be
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just like the bejeweled, pampered women that hire her to walk their dogs. Then she falls for Eddie. What she doesn't know is Eddie is living the kind of nightmare that could get her killed. I guess this is supposed to be a remake of Jane Eyre, but I enjoyed it as a modern thriller that kept me enthralled to the very end.
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LibraryThing member silversurfer
Excellent! A real page turner with a wallop of a twist!
LibraryThing member tibobi
*No Spoilers*

The Short of It:

This is the perfect read for now. Quick, impossible to put down and some twists for good measure.

The Rest of It:

Jane窶冱 life has been less than luxurious. As a product of the foster care system, she is skeptical, guarded and envious of those who have it easier.
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Scraping pennies to get by and forced to live with a roommate she truly cannot stand, she finds a job walking dogs in a ritzy neighborhood. Jane is not much of an animal lover but she is fascinated by the McMansions in this community and the people who live in them. The women, all rich and well-taken care of, have no idea what it窶冱 like to not make the rent. Jane wonders what it would be like to be one of them.

Jane窶冱 fascination with these women leads her to Eddie who is recently widowed. His wife Bea went missing in a boating accident with her best friend Blanche. Bea was eventually declared dead even though they never found her body because in order for Eddie to take over her home decor business her death had to be legally noted. Eddie lives alone in his big, beautiful house but when he sees Jane walking the neighbor窶冱 dog there is a little spark. A spark that prompts him to get his own dog so that Jane can walk his dog too. The two find an instant connection but Jane senses something more there.

Eddie窶冱 wife has only been gone for a short while and since many of the ladies in the neighborhood were good friends with Bea and Blanche, they can窶冲 help but be skeptical over this new, young woman in Eddie窶冱 life but Jane is determined to be one of them and when Eddie provides free use of his credit card, she begins to find her way in.

It all sounds very superficial but it窶冱 superficial in the way those rich housewives shows are. Juicy and full of gossipy goodness. Jane is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination but as the story unfolds, you quickly begin to realize that something much darker is at play and it窶冱 good, very good. I picked this book up and didn窶冲 put it down until I turned the last page.

It窶冱 being called a modern retelling of Jane Eyre which I find interesting. I didn窶冲 see it as that myself but it was juicy and twisty in all the right places and perfect for my mood. Very entertaining.

For more reviews, visit my blog: Book Chatter.
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LibraryThing member AdonisGuilfoyle
I get where Rachel Hawkins was going with this update of Jane Eyre - and a little Rebecca thrown in for added flavour - but her good intentions fell down a plot hole the size of Thornfield Hall. In Charlotte Bronte's novel, nobody (in Jane's Life) knows that Rochester is already married, let alone
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that he keeps his 'crazy' wife locked up in the attic. Here, 'Eddie' Rochester's wife is only missing, presumed dead, after less than a year and already he's taken over her company and is planning to remarry. And nobody but nobody has a problem with any of his plans!

Gaps in logic aside, the entire cast of characters was also unlikeable. Now, Jane Eyre is not my favourite novel and Rochester is far from a romantic hero, but even I can admire how well Charlotte crafted the story - I can certainly swallow Jean Rhys' revision of his personality far easier, but he is quite sympathetic in the original text, I'll give him that. Here, Rochester is a grasping psychopath, Jane herself is a petty thief turned grifter, and Bea (Bertha) falls victim to 'Gone Girl Syndrome' - which I HATE and utterly killed any praise I might have had for this book. Oh, and both women are too easily swayed by the mere thought that charming old Eddie might really, true love them, while the men are pathetic victims. Even the 'Stepford Wives' neighbours on Thornfield Estate, the gated community where the Rochesters live in Alabama, are clichテゥs. Ugh!

And dear lord, if the ending didn't just compound the issues above! Yes, Jane Eyre deserved better, but this just made no sense. None of the book made any sense, in fact. The 'new' Jane is a 'brave' character in the sense that hinging the story on a woman who thinks she 'deserves' other people's wealth because she had a terrible childhood is a ballsy move from the author, but the original Jane had far more dignity and the unnamed narrator in Rebecca was more sympathetic.

The first person narration is convincing, until everybody gets a say - including Eddie - and the flashbacks start, and yes, I was gripped by the unfolding drama, but I wouldn't read this again or shelve a copy alongside the original novels. Disappointing.
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LibraryThing member taleofnight
This is a retelling of Jane Eyre, which I have never read so I can't compare the two. I went into this not knowing anything other than it was a thriller. I have loved Rachel Hawkins young adult books, so I was excited when I saw she was publishing an adult thriller.

I didn't love it in the
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beginning. I wasn't a fan of Jane and I didn't like the overall voice. But the mystery kept me reading, and I did end up getting used to Jane and enjoying the mystery of it all.
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LibraryThing member Allison_Krajewski
I re-read Jane Eyre a few years ago in anticipation of another retelling of sorts about Mr. Rochester (appropriately, called Mr. Rochester). Since it was relatively fresh on my mind, I was excited to pick this book up, which is a modern-day thriller loosely based on the classic Jane Eyre by
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Charlotte Bronte.

Honestly, this book wasn't what I expected it to be, but I did enjoy it. In the story, we follow three narrators - Jane, Eddie, and Bea (Bertha) - as we slowly learn what happened on the night of a tragic boat accident where Bea and her friend were both lost and presumed dead. I thought the three narrators format lent insight into each of the characters, even though most of the story focused on Jane. However, the characters themselves lacked depth and weren't that likeable (though I guess that was the point), and a lot of the story read as cliche.

It was a pretty fast read, and overall it was good.

3.5 stars, but rounded down.

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for an eARC of this book in exchange of an honest review. All thoughts are my own.
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LibraryThing member Twink
Hmmm....I thought the premise was good, having taking some inspiration from Jane Eyre. I was curious to see what Hawkins had come up with.

I found each and every character to be unlikable. Jane isn't a lead that earned any empathy from me at all. She's a conniving user, a thief and a fake, matching
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much of what she despises about the wealthy residents of Thornfield Estates. I'm okay with having no clear 'good' or redeeming character in a novel, but found the character development missed the mark for me as well. I never bought into the 'romance' between Jane and Eddie at all.

Most of the story is told from Jane's point of view. Chapters from Bea do pique the reader/listener's curiosity. I do applaud Hawkins' manipulation of the reader/listener as we hear more from Bea. But again, it was somewhat predictable. I just, well I just expected more I think. More of a fresh story perhaps. The Wife Upstairs ended up being just an okay book for me. Still, this was a good listen while doing some quilting. I'm definitely in the minority on this book.

St. Martin's chose to use multiple readers for this book - Emily Shaffer, Kirby Heyborne, Lauren Fortgang. They're all readers I have enjoyed previously and they all did a good job with this novel.
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LibraryThing member Jthierer
I like the premise of this one (a retelling of Jane Eyre where Jane has some actual fire and agency? Sign me up!) but it just didn't hold my interest, even through several "twists" in the story. I think the actual Jane Eyre benefits from its length because it spends time with the characters
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sufficient for us to somewhat understand their 'romance,' while Wife Upstairs seems to fast forward to the climax. I genuinely feel like we went from meet cute to engaged in about 30 seconds. While the romance certainly isn't the point of the book I think a little more time with them as a happy couple might have made the ending hit harder.
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LibraryThing member marykuhl
This was given to me by netgalley in exchange for an honest review. "Jane" grew up in the foster system until she aged out. She changed her identity and has been trying to make a better life for herself. She takes a job as a dog walker in a high-end neighborhood in Birmingham where she meets Eddie,
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a widower who lives in the house of her dreams. Eddie's wife and her best friend both disappeared in what is believed to be a boating accident. But then the best friends body is found and questions and suspicions start to form.
This is written from 3 points of view, Jane, Bea (the wife) and Eddie. This was well written and nicely broken up into sections so that you didn't have to wonder whose story was being told. Thank you NetGalley, St. Martins Press and Rachel Hawkins.
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LibraryThing member KatherineGregg
I thought I was reading a book by Paula Hawkins, author of Girl on a Train, and kept waiting for the book to get better. It did not. The characters are shallow and one dimensional and the story line not terribly interesting. Jane, a 23 year old down and out woman running from her prior life, meets
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Eddie, her fiance, in a wealthy subdivision where she works as a dog walker. The neighborhood gossip reveals that Eddie's wife and her best friend Blanche are presumed dead after a boating accident. The turn of events towards the end of the book was unexpected but that is the only positive thing I can say about the book.
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LibraryThing member Smcgovern
Fast page turner, dog walker in rich neighborhoods falls for widow and engaged while his supposedly dead wife is liv8ngnin a panic room in the house
LibraryThing member brianinbuffalo
Built on an interesting premise and written in a way that keeps things moving, "The Wife Upstairs" was an enjoyable way to wrap up my summer reading. Having said that, I could barely remember the plot line a couple weeks after finishing it. This just isn't my genre, but I thought I would give it
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try after reading many favorable reviews.
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Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

304 p.; 9.46 inches


1250245494 / 9781250245496
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