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The Madwoman Upstairs

by Catherine Lowell

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4583844,127 (3.71)47
"A debut novel about the last remaining descendant of the Brontës who discovers that her recently deceased father has left her a treasure hunt that may lead to the long-rumored secret literary estate"--
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» See also 47 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)
I really don't know how to describe this . . . I read it straight through (unlike my usual flipping back and forth between books) . . . It is well written, but I was never sure throughout who was really mad - the author, the protagonist, the Brontes, or me.
It is the story of a young woman who had a mad childhood, living with her mad father, who goes off to college at Oxford, where she receives a mad education. Of sorts. But not really. She has only one interest, and that is in deciphering her now dead father (did I mention he was mad?) through the writings - or intentions - of the Brontes.
I don't know if it is a good book or a bad one. I don't know if I would read it again (but probably not). I do know I'm glad I read it once, and I'm glad I came out of it without going . . . you guessed it - mad. ( )
  LeslieHolm | May 19, 2022 |
Be prepared for a novel full of literary references, and don't feel bad if you haven't read them all. The Madwoman upstairs is a mixture of mystery/ coming of age story and an ode to the Bronte sisters. The only thing I had difficulty with was that Samantha's constant negativity didn't put off the people around her as much as it did me. I also didn't see her change all that much. Otherwise it was an enjoyable beach read. ( )
  Marietje.Halbertsma | Jan 9, 2022 |
The premise of the book looked exciting because it had three super interesting elements - Bronté sisters, the last living descendant of the Bronté family and a treasure hunt. It starts with Samantha Whipple, the last living descendant of the Bronté family joining Oxford Old College to study English Literature. Even though speculation is rife all over that she inherited the "Vast Bronté Estate" even though all she got was her father's bookmark and words that one day she would inherit the "Warnings of Experience". And then she starts receiving her father's copies of the Bronté books one by one. She also slowly starts falling in love with her tutor Orville.

And that's all I understood in the book. The whole treasure hunt plot is almost nonexistent. There is some discussion about different interpretations of the sisters' books, their semi-autobiographical nature and how much of their books impacted their lives. This is probably the only saving grace of the book. There was a lot of banter between Samantha and Orville but it will probably make more sense to students of English Literature. Which brings me to the worst part of the book - it's narrator Samantha. She hates her family legacy, the sisters, the course she has enrolled to study and pretty much everything else. She comes across as naive, confused, disrespectful and obsessive. It was very difficult to find anything likable about her.

Sometimes you want to complete books even though you don't like the characters because there is something inherently interesting; here, I couldn't wait for it to get over fast enough. ( )
  ksahitya1987 | Aug 20, 2021 |
This book had a lot of very funny lines, and some terribly well crafted sentences, but I failed to connect with it - even with the faux Oxford setting. Perhaps I found all the eye rolling literary digressions too pretentious. I just didn't care about the characters enough, and I found the dialogue and interpersonal relationships unlikely. ( )
  MuggleBorn930 | Jul 11, 2021 |
surprisingly good first novel (mystery/suspense/romance with classic lit theme). The identity of Hans wasn't a huge surprise, and the main protagonist is fairly weak-kneed around handsome men (as you would expect a sheltered young college girl to be), but that is forgivable. Well done. ( )
  reader1009 | Jul 3, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)
"This is an entertaining and ultimately sweet story, but it’s best if you don’t think about it too hard."
added by ablachly | editKirkus Reviews (Mar 1, 2016)
 
Even without its attraction for Brontë-philes, however, this is an enjoyable academic romp that successfully combines romance and intrigue, one that benefits from never taking itself too seriously.
 
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To my beautiful parents
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The night I arrived at Oxford, I learned that my dorm room was built in 1361 and had originally been used to quarantine victims of the plague.
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"A debut novel about the last remaining descendant of the Brontës who discovers that her recently deceased father has left her a treasure hunt that may lead to the long-rumored secret literary estate"--

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