Book Review: The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

Written by   (author of Obvious Conclusions)  |  Date Updated: April 21, 2020

the-family-upstairs-lisa-jewell-a-review-by-richard-cummingsIn this book review of The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell, I will share with you what I liked, what I didn’t like, and whether this is a book that you should have on your bookshelves or in your Kindle collection.

This is the first book that I have read by Lisa Jewell. I have heard her name, and heard people mention her books, but until now I have never been compelled to read one.

As a picture of food often compels us to visit a restaurant, I will admit I do judge a book by its cover and perhaps that is the reason that I have never before read this Lisa Jewell book.

I don’t particularly like the cover art on The Family Upstairs.

But I can both acknowledge and overcome my faults so I’ve just finished dining on this Jewell of a book?

It has to be, right? You cannot go by the name of Jewell and produce literary works of cubic zirconia.

Plus, it has over 1,500 near 5-star reviews on Amazon — I don’t blindly trust the judgment of one man (or even a few) but give me fifteen hundred and I’ll give it a try.

The first sentence of any book also reveals another character flaw of mine — I tend to judge the entirety of a book after reading only the first sentence.

And in this case the first sentence is: “It would be inaccurate to say that my childhood was normal before they came.”

Oh no, I thought, Have I embarked on an Oprah-like experience where every action and reaction is going to be related to some childhood trauma?

I complete every book that I start; so, after reading the first sentence, I was officially committed.

Thankfully the answer to the aforementioned question is No.

Plot Summary: The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

How do you share a plot without sharing secrets that will spoil surprises? Very delicately it turns out. So let’s delicately reveal what we are able…

The character who speaks the initial words above is named Henry. Though we should have some empathy with Henry’s character due to an unfortunate upbringing, his dislikeability makes that impossible. Several chapters of this book are presented to us in the first person by Henry, whose reflections and interpretations we cannot always trust.

Other chapters are presented to us in third person from Libby’s perspective. Who is Libby? Libby is a would-be-attractive English girl humbly dedicated to her work, unaware of her potential beauty, and living paycheck to paycheck. She is about to inherit a house worth millions of dollars from a family she never knew. Still humble now Libby?

Finally, we have chapters shared from Lucy’s perspective. Lucy is a woman living in France with two kids by two different men and supporting this group of three by playing the fiddle, which has just been stolen. You’ve made poor decisions in life thus far Lucy — what will become of you now?

These three characters form the foundation of Lisa Jewell’s The Family Upstairs, a book title that has confounded more than a few, as Amy mentions on this GoodRead’s page.


The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell: Should You Read It?

There are more ways to judge a book than by the cover or the first sentence.

One good question that I always like to ask is: Would you read another book by this author? The answer to that question is definitely yes.

I enjoyed The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell.  The book has an intricate, intriguing plot which brings three seemingly distanced individuals together and sees them face hardships that most would only see in nightmares.

Oh, yes, definitely I’ll be back for another Lisa Jewell effort.

Perhaps Then She Was Gone?

Richard Cummings
Richard Cummings

I enjoyed The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell.  The book has an intricate, intriguing plot which brings three seemingly distanced individuals together and sees them face hardships that most would only see in nightmares.

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Richard Cummings

Richard Cummings is a writer, traveler, and web content developer.

Get your copy of his latest book entitled Obvious Conclusions, stories of a Midwestern emigrant influenced and corrupted by many years living in San Francisco and abroad. It just received its first outstanding review "...reminiscent of David Sedaris or Augusten Burroughs" on Amazon UK.
Richard Cummings
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Richard CummingsBook Review: The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

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