Friday, October 21, 2016

Review: The Madwoman Upstairs by Catherine Lowell

The Madwoman UpstairsPublisher: Touchstone
Pages: 352
Received: Received a copy from Simon and Schuster Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: March 1, 2016
Buy From / Buy From

Goodreads Synopsis:

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 family's 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, she's rumored to have inherited a vital, mysterious portion of the Brontë's literary estate; diaries, paintings, letters, and early novel drafts; a hidden fortune that's never been shown outside of the family.

But Samantha has never seen this rumored estate, and as far as she knows, it doesn't 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 father's handwriting. As more and more bizarre clues arrive, Samantha soon realizes that her father has left her an elaborate scavenger hunt using the world's 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 Brontë's 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.

My Review:

Wow, this book was a lot more fun than I had expected it to be. I have always been a fan of the novels of the Bronte sisters so the fact that this book held some of that in it really interested me. What I did not expect from it was the amount of history that is really given. This book was a great adventure and a great read that keeps readers on their toes.

Samantha has grown up knowing the history of the Bronte sisters, being the last descendant of that family, but as Samantha embarks on a quest left to her by her late father, she realizes that there may be more about her family history than even she knew. Samantha has come to Oxford to get away from her history but no matter where she goes, the Bronte family continually follows her. What this story turns into is a hunt for Samantha to find out the truth of her family and to finally come to terms with who she is.

I will say as much as I did enjoy the scavenger hunt that this book gives readers and the history of the Bronte's, I felt that something was missing. To me Samantha did not seem to have much character and she felt a bit one-dimensional. As I was reading this book, I felt myself more interested in the mystery of what happened to the estate of the Bronte sisters and the way the history of the sisters was hidden in the stories, but I could not connect with Samantha. I believe what this story needed was more character development to really give it the edge over other stories.

There was a lot of interesting details and it is very obvious that Catherine Lowell truly researched this story, but I think the story of Samantha got lost in the history of the Brontes and this is a story of her trying to get away from that past. I think this was a very fun book and I felt that there were many interesting parts, but it just needed a little more to it.

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