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The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins
Thriller

The Wife Upstairs

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This is an early release that's only available to our members—the rest of the world has to wait to read it.

by Rachel Hawkins

Excellent choice

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Quick take

A twisty Southern gothic about a rich husband, his hot young fiancée, and unanswered questions about his missing wife.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Creepy

    Creepy

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Whodunit

    Whodunit

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_SuburbanDrama

    Suburban drama

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_BasedOnAClassic

    Based on a classic

Synopsis

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?

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Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of The Wife Upstairs.
The Wife Upstairs

Part I: Jane

1

February

It is the absolute shittiest day for a walk.

Rain has been pouring down all morning, making my drive from Center Point out here to Mountain Brook a nightmare, soaking the hem of my jeans as I get out of the car in the Reeds’ driveway, making my sneakers squelch on the marble floors of the foyer.

But Mrs. Reed is holding her dog Bear’s leash, making a face at me, this frown of exaggerated sympathy that’s supposed to let me know how bad she feels about sending me out in the rain on this Monday morning.

That’s the important thing—that I know that she feels bad.

She still expects me to do it, though.

I’ve been walking dogs in the Thornfield Estates subdivision for almost a month now, and if there’s one thing I’ve definitely figured out, it’s that what matters most is how everything looks.

Mrs. Reed looks sympathetic. She looks like she absolutely hates that I have to walk her collie, Bear, on a cold and stormy day in mid-February.

She looks like she actually gives a fuck about me as a person.

She doesn’t, though, which is fine, really.

It’s not like I give a fuck about her, either.

So I smile, tugging at the bottom of my army-green raincoat.

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Why I love it

As a huge mystery and suspense reader, I love trying to solve the puzzle at the heart of the story before all the pieces have slid into place. But even more, I love that joy of surprise when those puzzle pieces suddenly create something unexpected. And The Wife Upstairs surprised me in all the best ways. I was hooked by the premise itself: a reimagined Jane Eyre as a contemporary domestic suspense set in the South? Yes please! What followed was a tense mystery told in a pitch-perfect voice, brimming with sharp insight and wit.

To set the scene: Our Jane is a dog walker in Thornfield Estates, a development of McMansions in suburban Alabama. And—courtesy of a chance encounter on one abysmal rainy day—Jane is about to fall for one of the residents, the recently widowed Eddie Rochester. But the ghost of Mrs. Rochester’s memory looms large in Thornfield Estates—along with the whispered rumors…

The Wife Upstairs truly has something for every type of reader: murder, love, and ambition combine in a story that is both witty and suspenseful. I loved trying to line up the similarities to the source material, but those who haven’t read Jane Eyre will have just as much fun getting swept along for the ride as the story veered into its own twisting, haunting, surprising tale. This was a lightning-fast read that had me glued to the page, desperate to see what would happen, and enjoying every minute along the way.

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Member ratings (39,211)

  • Katy T.

    Orange City, FL

    Every time I thought I’d figured it out here came another switcharoo!!! It’s so easy to think everyone’s lives are so much better because of how they “appear” but things aren’t always what they seem.

  • Jessica M.

    Las Vegas, NV

    I’m on the fence about like or love but since I found myself so intrigued with Eddie and what his “plans” were, I’m giving it ❤️. The characters were nuts and the setting was fun. Great beach read!

  • Rubi M.

    Fort Worth , TX

    Just finished this one. I wasn’t a huge fan of Jane at first but I enjoyed the book. Towards the end was the “OOH” moment putting pieces together was so fun. Wish they’d gone over what happened after.

  • Jamie B.

    Overland Park , KS

    This was probably the first suspense book I’ve read in a long time that I wasn’t sure how it ended. The author did an amazing job keeping you guessing. I can’t wait till she writes another book. 

  • Danielle R.

    Pensacola, FL

    It’s extremely rare that a book surprises me but this one did and I absolutely loved it! I didn’t completely like any of the characters but that’s what made me happy because they were like real people

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