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Book Review // The Madwoman Upstairs by Catherine Lowell

The Madwoman Upstairs by Catherine Lowell {Goodreads}
Published by Quercus Publishing in 2016
Paperback edition; 416 pages {BookDepository}

The Madwoman Upstairs follows Samantha Whipple, the last descendant of the famous Brontë family. Her father is dead and the public believes she has inherited some important pieces of the Brontë’s literary estate, which is not true as long as she’s concerned since she has never seen said estate. When she starts attending Oxford College however, everything changes. She stars receiving books that belonged to her father and the whole situations turns into a scavenger hunt to unfold her family legacy.

First of all, this is such a funny book and I didn’t expect it to be so. I giggle a lot because Samantha is a very unique and awkward main character. Some of the dialogues are true gems although sometimes she got on my nerves as well. There are a lot of literary discussions not just about the Brontë sisters but also about literary criticism and what is the right way to analyze a literary text: it is okay to take into account the author’s life or should be the text regarded in isolation?

The book goes through most Brontë novels and spoils both Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights from beginning to end and some plot lines from Agnes Grey, Vilette and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall – and although I haven’t read these last three I wasn’t bother because there weren’t major spoilers and I don’t think it would affect my reading in the future. The reason why this happens is because Samantha is constantly comparing the novels to the authors and finding connections between the narratives and the Brontës’ real life. It was what her father showed her to do since he was obsessed with the idea that everything that is within the novels happened in real life to the sisters. It’s rather interesting and I found it quite amusing and entertaining.

There is a bit of romance on top of all the mystery. I don’t think it took over the story but I also didn’t find it convincing. I had a lot of fun reading this but when I finished it, I felt something was missing and up until this day, if I’m honest, I cannot really put my finger on what it is. Anyways, I would recommend The Madwoman Upstairs especially if you like and are interested in the Brontë sisters and enjoy funny mystery novels.  

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