Review: The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins

Look how gorgeous this cover is!

Star rating: 3/5 stars

Synopsis: via Goodreads

Meet Jane. Newly arrived to Birmingham, Alabama, Jane is a broke dog-walker in Thornfield Estates––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––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––or his––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?

General information: This will be published in January 2021 by St. Martin’s Press. Thank you to Book of the Month for my copy!

My thoughts:

This was a fun read! And by fun, I mean engaging and a little stressful. However, it wasn’t quite as tense as I wanted it to be, especially for a thriller.

Ultimately, I gave it three stars (closer to 3.5, probably) because I just couldn’t connect to anyone in the book and the story fell a little flat for me.

I loved Jane Eyre when I read it back in high school so I knew exactly where this book was headed; the main reveal about Bea was not a surprise. (I won’t spoil it just in case anyone isn’t familiar with Jane Eyre…. despite the name of this book kind of giving it away. But hey, better safe than sorry. No spoilers here).

However, this one didn’t quite hit me the way I expected it to. I love retellings of classics so I expected to love this, but I was kind of just… meh about it. It was a good read, and I finished it within two days, but I just didn’t connect with it.

Nearly all of the characters are unlikeable to an extreme. This was an interesting twist on Jane Eyre and I actually liked that idea. Unlikeability doesn’t usually stop me from becoming emotionally invested in a character, but for some reason the main characters fell a little flat for me. I loved some of the side characters and wanted to hear more about them (the Ingrahams, for instance). The main trio just didn’t quite do it for me, though.

I loved the setting! Jane Eyre set in a rich suburb in the South? Yes please. The author did a great job of setting scenes and making you feel part of the story. I felt like I had visited the wealthy enclaves of Birmingham by the end.

I was also surprised by many of the twists- this book definitely did not go where I thought it would, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The plot took many twists and turns that I did not expect, especially near the end. The reveals were done really well, in my opinion.

Thrillers aren’t my usual genre so I kind of took a chance on this one. I still really enjoyed it, I just didn’t find myself emotionally invested in the story. Will I read it again in the future? Probably not. I still recommend it for fans of classic retellings and those who want a quick read.

Thanks for reading! Have you read this one yet or is it on your TBR? Let me know in the comments!