After finishing a thought provoking book like Jane Eyre, I often find it hard to be motivated to read something else without the last novel still floating around in my head. So when I heard about Catherine Lowell’s debut novel, The Madwoman Upstairs, on the WSIRN Podcast it seemed like a natural fit to follow up Jane.
The Madwoman Upstairs is a literary mystery, with the main character Samantha who is the last remaining descendant to the Bronte Family. She is an intelligent, witty young woman, who is still pained by the loss of her father. After his death, Samantha is the presumed heir to the long lost diaries, art, and early novel drafts that have been past down from the Bronte family. Even though Samantha has never seen, or heard of these objects from her father.
Samantha enrolls at Oxford University, and her path changes when she is mysteriously left pieces of her past by an unknown person. She is then on the hunt for who is leaving these gifts from the past, and why, with the help of the handsome professor Dr. Orville. It is then up to her to find out the Bronte’s untold family legacy through their classic works of literature. Not only is she on the search for her mysterious heir, she is also finding out who she is and a sense of belonging in the world without her father.
This novel is fun, quirky, and intelligent. DISCLAIMER: You do NOT need to have read any of the Bronte’s novels to read this book! From the very beginning I was instantly sucked into a clever blend of classic literature, and a new tale of an epic chase. What I found really intriguing was that the author had put in some really fun characters based on the ones found in classic lit. Samantha, the main character reminded me so much of Jane Eyre, with her snarky remarks and her spirit. Then there was Rebecca whom, was based off of Daphne du Maurier’s novel Rebecca, who incidentally was believed to be killed at sea… which lines up with du Maurier’s character. The Wizard of Oz also came into play in this novel with specific references, and themes. Speaking of themes, the ones that really spoke to me were the illusion of madness, dealing of loss, and the search for home and family.
This book had just about everything that I love about a book. References to other books, a page turning chase to the end, and of course a little bit of a love story thrown in there too. I would absolutely recommend this book. And like I mentioned earlier, you do not need to have read any of the classic literature to read it, but it may enhance the experience of this novel.
Because every book nerd loves a good book about books, I decided to include a couple of my favourite titles:
- The End of Your Life Book Club, Will Schwalbe
- The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, Gabrielle Zevin
- The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
- The Shadow of the Wind, Carlos Ruiz Zafon
- The Jane Austen Book Club, Karen Joy Fowler
Please, if you have any suggestions about books about books, leave it in the comments or send me an email.
Until the next book, happy reading!