Though this one had been on my wishlist for quite a long time, I had almost refrained from picking it up as I had almost thought this one was a parody novel. The title sounded quite similar to another International Best Seller (The Family Upstairs- Lisa Jewell), and the author also seemed like the namesake of another Best Selling Author (Paula Hawkins). But a little bit of googling told me that the author is already a known name in young adult paranormal romance, and it’s just that this particular title is her debut work in adult fiction.
Set in Birmingham, Alabama, and narrated from multiple perspectives, The Wife Upstairs is the story of Jane, a broke, small-town girl with a past who is now a dog walker in an upscale neighborhood. She chances upon Eddie, the rich widowed millionaire, and love blossoms between the two, and Jane cannot believe her luck when she proposes to her. Bea, Eddie’s first wife, had died in a tragic boat accident with her best friend Blanche a couple of months ago while they were on a girl’s out during the weekend. But pretty soon, Jane realizes that it had all been a farce and Eddie might have had something to do with their death. So, is she in real danger?
Besides Jane, Eddie and Bea, there are only a few characters in this 250+ pages Novel. We have Tripp, Blanche’s drunkard husband; Emelie and Co- the posh, rich, gossipy wives in the neighborhood whom Jane befriends; John, Jane’s former tenant and who is nothing but a creep and the Detective who turns up with strange questions just before each significant plot twist. None of the characters are likable, and ironically, I could feel a little bit of sympathy for Trip Ingram, who is portrayed as a drunkard and a perpetual nuisance in the neighborhood.
Though pretty generic, the book is well-paced, and the multiple narrative technique has come out quite well. Hawkins has managed to retain the suspense for a larger part of the narrative with limited characters. The twists though a few, are done decently, but I must confess that I had figured out the final reveal (which was also a bit underwhelming) before the author intended it. Though the writer has tried to portray Jane as someone with a dark past, by the time this supposedly ‘dark past’ is revealed, you can’t stop asking what the big deal was about it all, though! But having said that, I liked how Hawkins drew parallels between Bea and Jane. The climax also felt abrupt, and the author seemed unconvinced to take sides.
On the whole, The Wife Upstairs is an average thriller. It’s nothing extraordinary, but not bad, either!