This book has been receiving a ton of hype. It was a Book of the Month pick, it’s been featured on countless ‘most anticipated release’ lists and the fire storm of praise on Instagram and other social media platforms made me so excited to read this one.
It’s marketed as Jane Eyre for the modern woman. It’s a retelling of the Victorian classic Jane Eyre with an added Southern Gothic edge. Sounds irresistible right? Jane Eyre isn’t my favorite classic but I loved the idea of a modern retelling with the roles of Jane and others reversed or turned on their head and put into a thriller.
I loved the idea so much that I even brought this book up for our book club pick for January. I was sure that this book as going to be a hit. Not only did it sound compelling but the praise from so many readers was undeniable. We had to love it right? It has to be good right?
Reader, I hated it.
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 – 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? (summary from Goodreads)
Normally I don’t mind retellings or even fan fiction. I almost always try and keep the original story separate from the retelling and usually that’s never an issue. But with this one, it was near impossible for me to not compare it with the original Jane Eyre. While this book was nothing like the classic Jane Eyre, the character names were basically the same and the premise was also incredibly similar.
In this book, Jane is a foster child (mostly true in the classic), she meets Eddie when he runs into her with his car (mostly true to the classic as well), they being a romance (also same), Eddie is rich and Jane is poor (also same), by the end the house burns down by a crazy wife in the attic (also same). While there are plenty of similarities between the two books, there are also plenty of things that aren’t the same. Murder, desperate housewives, and the line after line of profanity. I have zero problem with profanity. I myself have a trucker mouth, but there is something about reading it in excess that grates on my nerves. In this case the constant use of profanity added nothing to the story. Sure some of it would have been fine and snappy and modern, but the line ‘Reader I fucked him’ was just too much for me.
I absolutely hated Jane in this book. She was a thief, a liar, and generally unlikeable. I didn’t like how she manipulated Eddie and the neighborhood housewives. I never found anything about her redeeming and likable in this story. Even in the end when it was clear that she had been taken advantage of by two people in a sick marriage, I still felt like she deserved it. I just never ever warmed up to her in any way. Eddie and Bea were equally unlikable and horrid. Eddie came across as a scumbag and Bea, well you will have to read to find out what’s up with her. But both of them were absolutely intolerable. John, Blanche, Tripp, all of the characters were terrible people.
And frankly the story wasn’t full of twists in my opinion. Readers of the classic will mostly know what’s coming in this one, but even the modern murder mystery wasn’t really a mystery to me in the least. It was clear where things were going and none of the ‘twists’ did anything for me. It was all predictable. Now that said, I will say that this books one redeeming quality, the Southern Gothic atmosphere. I loved the atmosphere in this one and thought she nailed that. Everything else was just tragic.
Had it not been for book club, I would have set this book down after the third chapter. In fact, I actually wanted to put this book down at many many many points because I simply just didn’t like it, but book club was the only thing that kept me focused on finishing it. Now, while I might not have liked it, I realize that many people might feel differently. If this is a book you have had your eye on for a while, don’t let my poor opinion of this book dissuade you from reading it! You might love it! This is one of those books that you will know instantly if you like or not. For me, I knew right away this one wasn’t for me, and I know a lot of fans of the classic Jane Eyre, also hated this one, but there were plenty of people who loved it so maybe that person is you.
Book Info and Rating
Audible Audio, Unabridged
Published January 5th 2021 by Macmillan AudioOrigina
Review copy provided by personal collection, all opinions are my own and in no way influenced.
Rating: 1 star