The Madwoman Upstairs – Catherine Lowell

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 Bronte 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.

I have to say this book really did appeal to me from the description right through to the variation of novel covers, I enjoyed it as a humorous read with a quirky, yet awkward, protagonist and the forever developing love aspect, which was my favourite part I must admit.

If anything this is a tale of a self discovering journey, one that wants to think one and only way, misunderstands a lot of the people within her proximity and is destined to find the hidden treasure that yet may not exist! I find it sad that her father appeared so cryptic yet clearly idolising his daughter to give up and sever every other relationship he had, even if his daughter was so unaware.

I enjoy the relationship with Orville, he is by far my favourite character, strong, independent, stern yet soft at the centre with the ability to feel, if he allows himself to and a man with a dark secret.

Samantha’s sense of humour and sarcasm plays a big part within the pages and the conversations that she has with others are enlightening and often crack a smile.

Although I have visited Haworth I am not a massive Bronte fan, I have never read any of the novels and after reading The Madwoman Upstairs I am not about to start, saying that I did enjoy this novel, the humour and love interest outweighed the Bronte Sisters for me. Give it a go. Quirky indeed.

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