Release Date: 5th January 2021
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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?
I’ve been a fan of Rachel Hawkins since her Hex Hall days. That was a fun series. When I heard that she was coming out with an adult thriller – her first foray into adult fiction! – I was, well, thrilled. I was very excited to see what she would come out with, and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy.
We can all see where this is going, can’t we?
Yep, I was disappointed.
What I loved about Hawkins’ previous books was the amount of personality that was in there. The characters had so much heart, and they were snarky and fun to read, and because of this they really jumped out of the page at you.
The characters in The Wife Upstairs were just a bit bland, really. I realise it’s difficult to pull off great characters in a thriller book. Very few authors do it for me. But I was hoping Hawkins would be one of the ones who could. Instead all the characters, particularly Jane, were bland and didn’t have much going for them.
In case it wasn’t clear from the synopsis, this is a modern retelling of Jane Eyre. That’s a classic that I have actually read quite recently, so go me! I didn’t know this was a retelling going into this, until all the characters started being introduced and then it hit me in the face like a brick.
This has to be one of the least subtle retellings I’ve ever read, and I didn’t much like it. I didn’t like that I knew where the story was going to go since this is supposed to be a thriller that keeps you on the seat of your pants. It kind of ruins the effect.
I did quite like the very, very end. But everything leading up to that was really quite boring and generic, and I was really hoping for more. I’m giving this book three stars because it wasn’t terrible, and I mostly liked reading it. I just think it’s very forgettable, and I can only hope that Hawkins’ future adult books turn out to be better.
About the Author
Rachel Hawkins is the author of Rebel Belle and the New York Times bestselling series Hex Hall. Born in Virginia and raised in Alabama, Rachel taught high school English for three years before becoming a full-time writer. Follow her on twitter @LadyHawkins. – Penguin Random House
Interested in more 2021 Debuts? Check out my Debut Showcase feature, in which I talk about a tonne of authors with debut books coming out in 2021. While you’re here, perhaps consider taking part in the Debut Author Challenge? There are giveaways, readathons, read-ins, and more!