Rachel Hawkins | The Wife Upstairs

wife upstairs rachel hawkins

The Book: 

The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins, 2021

The Characters: 

Jane (formerly known as Helen)
Eddie and his deceased wife Bea
Bea’s best friend Blanche, also deceased

The Plot (from Goodreads):

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?

wife upstairs rachel hawkins
Click here for book spoilers for <em>The Wife Upstairs</em>
Book spoilers ahead–if you haven’t yet read The Wife Upstairs, I suggest you turn back now.

The Twist:

Bea isn’t dead. We find out in Part 2 (Bea’s diary entry) that Eddie is keeping her locked up somewhere in her house, and that he killed Blanche. Bea puts her diary in Eddie’s jacket pocket after she seduces him, hoping that Jane will find it. 

Jane’s big secret is that she let her foster father die of a stroke instead of helping him, after he had let her foster sister die by not taking her to the hospital when she had pneumonia. 

Jane does find the diary. She releases Bea, but Eddie finds them in Bea’s cell together. Jane hits him on the head with a heavy decoration. She and Bea escape, but don’t go far. They calmly drink in the kitchen while Eddie is unconscious upstairs. 

Then we get Eddie’s perspective. Bea killed Blanche and was going to stage it as a drunken boating accident, but Eddie showed up at the lake house and caught her. He had also figured out that Bea had killed her own mother. He locked her up in his house to protect the world from her, but didn’t call the police because he loved her and didn’t want to see her go to jail. 

While Bea and Jane are drinking in the kitchen, Eddie starts a fire in the panic room. Bea rushes upstairs to save him, but Jane runs out of the house to save herself. The fire burns the whole house to the ground, and only Eddie’s teeth are found. Jane is unsure whether they survive. 

The Ending:

Eddie had changed his will to include Jane, so she got his and Bea’s entire fortunes. She never told anyone that Bea was still alive.

The Review: 

The Wife Upstairs has been compared to both Jane Eyre and Rebecca. I’ve read neither of those but loved The Wife Upstairs nonetheless. I love books about nosy rich people using their money to hide their secrets, and this one did not disappoint. I went into it pretty much blind to anything more than the jacket description, and I’m glad I did!

Eddie seems like the key to everything Jane ever wanted, until things begin to get weird–I almost would have felt bad for her, if not for her gold-digging ulterior motives. Practically every character in this book falls under the love-to-hate category. They all came together so beautifully, though, and all deserved each other. 

I always roll my eyes at whirlwind romances like this–there can’t be people in real life that marry someone else less than a year after their (supposedly beloved) wife disappears, before her case is even closed? I hope not. It always makes for an interesting plot, though!

The ending was a little too good to be true for one character, and requires some suspension of belief. Most questions were tied up by the end, though. Overall a very enjoyable thriller, definitely one to watch out for!
The Wife Upstairs will be available on January 5th, 2021. I’m extremely grateful to St. Martin’s Press for providing me with a free ARC in exchange for an honest review!

wife upstairs rachel hawkins

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