Friday, March 11, 2016

Julie's Review: The Madwoman Upstairs


Author: Catherine Lowell
Series: None
Publication Date: March 2, 2016
Publisher: Touchstone
Pages: 339
Obtained: publisher
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction, Mystery
Rating: 5/5
Bottom Line: Spectacular novel about the things we hold the closest and the things we need to let go of
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Grab!
Summary: In this smart and enthralling debut in the spirit of The Weird Sisters and Special Topics in Calamity Physics, the only remaining descendant of the Brontë family embarks on a modern-day literary scavenger hunt to find the familys long-rumored secret estate, using clues her eccentric father left behind. Samantha Whipple is used to stirring up speculation wherever she goes. As the last remaining descendant of the Brontë family, shes rumored to have inherited a vital, mysterious portion of the Brontës literary estate—diaries, paintings, letters, and early novel drafts—a hidden fortune thats never been shown outside of the family. But Samantha has never seen this rumored estate, and as far as she knows, it doesnt exist. She has no interest in acknowledging what the rest of the world has come to find so irresistible—namely, the sudden and untimely death of her eccentric father, or the cryptic estate he has bequeathed to her. But everything changes when Samantha enrolls at Oxford University and bits and pieces of her past start mysteriously arriving at her doorstep, beginning with an old novel annotated in her fathers handwriting. As more and more bizarre clues arrive, Samantha soon realizes that her father has left her an elaborate scavenger hunt using the worlds greatest literature. With the aid of a handsome and elusive Oxford professor, Samantha must plunge into a vast literary mystery and an untold family legacy, one that can only be solved by decoding the clues hidden within the Brontës own writing. A fast-paced adventure from start to finish, this vibrant and original novel is a moving exploration of what it means when the greatest truth is, in fact, fiction. ~powells.com

Review: Madwoman Upstairs is a spectacular debut novel about finding out what it means to be family and what it means to come into your own. For so long Samantha Whipple has been Tristan Whipple's daughter. So much so that even in death, he still overshadowed her life. It's not only that she's Tristan's daughter but it's who they are descendants of: The Brontë Family.  Can you imagine being the legacy of one of the most famous literary families? Not only that but one that was all women?! How do you live up to that? How do you down play it?

Samantha is awkward but tries to pass herself off as witty and self-assured. It is in her meetings with her Professor/Advisor Orville that she is at her most awkward. This is where her homeschooling did her a disservice because her father never gave her the socialization she needs to understand body language. She doesn't have a lot of social graces but she's smart. She's also been a little lost since the death of her father when she was 15. She has no direction because she was waiting for her dad to give it to her. As a reader you shudder when her way of thinking gets her into trouble or she makes a joke when it isn't the appropriate time.

When her dad send her messages from beyond the grave, Samantha digs for much deeper meaning that might not necessarily be the true intent. She is searching for meaning when there might not anything more than what it seems.

This book is an adventure. It is unique with the premise of a literary treasure hunt that I enjoyed every single minute of. I loved that it led Samantha to the truth of her "inheritance" and what her father wanted her to get out of it. She grew up a bit but still had miles to go. There's a point at the end of the novel where she and Orville are having a pretty serious discussion and he says something to her that was fantastic and truly spoke to the kind of man he was and what he wanted for her.

I actually have no idea if I read Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights in school but I know this, I will be reading them soon with a different mindset. Reading Madwoman UpstairsI know will skew my view of these literary classics but I hope in a good way.

If you love literary novels and mysteries, then this one puts them in one fantastic package for you. I highly recommend.

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