The Madwoman Upstairs by Catherine Lowell

“We entered a vast, bottomless silence. I scrambled for better conversation topics. This all would have been far less stressful in the movie version of our lives. The long silences would have been edited out.”

The last surviving Bronte heir is now attending college at Oxford University near where the Bronte estate is in London. Her father’s line is what ties her to the Bronte family, but she is now dealing with his death and several of his personal book copies showing up at her dorm room. Well, even that isn’t what it seems, because she has been assigned to live in a room in a tower. Her father’s books were supposed to have perished in the fire that killed him. If that one fact of her life is now untrue, what else could be fantasy?

I read this book on the recommendation of a friend who is a fellow book-lover. I was intrigued by the plotline since I enjoyed Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights in my middle school and high school years (they are some of the few books I have read a second time or more).

As Samantha has lessons with her tutor, Professor Orville, and presents her unique view of literature, she also entices him to try and help her solve the mystery of her father’s books. Samantha believes that the authors put their lives in their writings, especially the Brontes. Another mystery regarding the missing Bronte estate is also thrown in the mix. The key to all Samantha wants to know could be right in front of her. Will she solve the mysteries, get sidetracked with love or become the madwoman upstairs?

This book is not a straight-forward read as there are several mysteries to solve and literary references and history to understand. However, the plotline is very interesting and will bring delight to any Bronte fan. I feel like there are several layers of meanings to the book and I haven’t had time to dig through all of them. The ending still leaves me guessing a bit, but in a good way. I would recommend this to any Bronte lover or as a book club book.

Buy the book here (affiliate link).

About Sarah Anne Carter

Sarah Anne Carter is a writer and reader. She grew up all over the world as a military brat and is now putting down roots with her family in Ohio. Family life keeps her busy, but any spare moment is spent reading, writing or thinking about plots for novels.