The Wife Upstairs: A Novel

The Wife Upstairs: A Novel

by Rachel Hawkins


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Notes From Your Bookseller

An undeniably intelligent twist on the classic Jane Eyre, The Wife Upstairs offers a fresh and feminist ride of a country-fried gothic. Dogwalker Jane may find security with the widower Rochester, but she soon realizes she may be in for more than she bargained for. Get ready for secrets, shocks and surprises: this one is a page-turner.

Instant New York Times and USA Today Bestseller

“Compulsively readable...a gothic thriller laced with arsenic.” ––EW

One of the Most Anticipated Books of 2021: CNN Newsweek • Vulture • PopSugar • Parade • BuzzFeed • E!Online TimeOut • Woman's Day • Goodreads • She Reads • Good Housekeeping • CrimeReads • Frolic • Hello! Mystery and Suspense

January 2021 Indie Next Pick and #1 LibraryReads Pick

A delicious twist on a Gothic classic, The Wife Upstairs pairs Southern charm with atmospheric domestic suspense, perfect for fans of B.A. Paris and Megan Miranda.

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?

With delicious suspense, incisive wit, and a fresh, feminist sensibility, The Wife Upstairs flips the script on a timeless tale of forbidden romance, ill-advised attraction, and a wife who just won’t stay buried. In this vivid reimagining of one of literature’s most twisted love triangles, which Mrs. Rochester will get her happy ending?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly


YA author Hawkins (Her Royal Highness) makes her adult debut with this spirited reboot of Jane Eyre. Shortly after starting to walk dogs in tony Thornfield Estates, a gated community in Birmingham, Ala., the penniless young woman calling herself Jane meets dashing recent widower Eddie Rochester—whose wealthy wife, Bea Mason, went missing and was presumed drowned in a boating mishap, along with her BFF Blanche Ingraham, six months earlier. Sparks fly, but plain Jane has a tough time living up to the legend of the glamorous Bea, who created the Southern Manors lifestyle brand. Then Blanche’s body is found, and it’s clear from the massive skull fracture that her death was no accident. As the police reopen their probe, an increasingly concerned Jane starts investigating Bea’s fate and what part, if any, Eddie played. Hawkins shows real wit in outsider Jane’s sharp-eyed take on the entitled ladies of Thornfield Estates, but the mercenarily motivated characters will put off some readers. Nonetheless, this suspenseful domestic thriller will keep readers turning the pages. Agent: Holly Root, Root Literary. (Jan.)

From the Publisher

"A Southern Gothic twist on Jane Eyre that’s full of suspense, twists and turns...the story of this twisted love triangle will have you on the edge of your seat all the way until the end." ––CNN

“A delightfully surprising and suspenseful twist on Jane Eyre."––Newsweek

"Consider us enthralled." ––The Skimm

“A delicious thriller that you'll likely want to read in a single sitting.” ––TimeOut

"Thesis: Any thriller that has the word "wife" in the title is going to be good. And proof comes courtesy of Hawkins' modern retelling of Jane Eyre, which is the year's first irresistible page-turner that will keep you up at night." ––E! Online

"What would have happened if Jane Eyre had not been a naïve innocent with a heart of gold? Grab this page-turner and find out." ––Vulture

“A thrilling, suspenseful tale of will-they-or-won't-they that will keep you on the edge.” ––Woman’s Day

“Read to find out whether either of them can ever escape their secrets, or if their forbidden tryst is doomed to failure.” ––Good Housekeeping

"With an even darker twist, this novel delivers a one-of-a-kind take on a well-known gothic tale. In addition to the suspenseful story line, the distorted love triangle and the impassivity of the Thornfield residents will have readers feeling simultaneously discombobulated and fulfilled."––Library Journal (starred review)

"The Wife Upstairs is a thrill ride [and] the pace is hurtling...I felt implicated, dubious, off-kilter as I navigated this elaborate masque of a story." ––Southern Review of Books

“This compelling retelling of Jane Eyre deftly serves up a delicious mystery with a side of biting social commentary.” ––Shelf Awareness

“An inspired riff on the gothic classic.” ––Goodreads

"...this suspenseful domestic thriller will keep readers turning pages." ––Publishers Weekly

"Hawkins twists together the suspense and storytelling of Jane Eyre with the atmosphere, tension, and odd characters of a Southern-gothic into a tale of a young woman trying to escape her altogether sinister novel that will make readers of Jennifer McMahon, Ruth Ware, and Donna Tartt shudder." ––Booklist

"...chances are you’ll fly through 'The Wife Upstairs' both because you’re intrigued by the unfolding story itself and because you’re putting together all the nods to its inspiration, Charlotte Bronte’s 'Jane Eyre.'"––St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"Hawkins delivers a sharp, fresh twist on a classic in this darkly funny, suspenseful story of murder, ambition, and love. Creepy and fast-paced, The Wife Upstairs kept me on the edge of my seat from the first page to the very last." ––Megan Miranda, New York Times bestselling author

“I was completely blown away by The Wife Upstairs. This is a compulsive, irresistible retelling of Jane Eyre with a modern, noir twist – and wow, does it work.” ––Samantha Downing, USA Today bestselling author

The Wife Upstairs is everything I’d hoped—sharp, smart, tricky and fast-paced. Rachel Hawkins’ debut thriller puts you in the steps of an outsider, an insider, and an imposter, but which is which? You won’t know til you’re up way too late turning the final pages." ––Kelly Harms, nationally bestselling author of The Overdue Life of Amy Byler

Library Journal


In children's author Hawkins's first adult novel, Jane is a wanderer. Newly arrived in Birmingham, AL, she walks dogs for the rich and sometimes famous residents of Thornfield Estates. Jane both envies and despises the women she works for. To them, she is invisible. Luckily for Jane, that means they won't notice her habit of pocketing their jewelry or bother to wonder if Jane is her real name. When Jane meets Eddie, she sees the opportunity of a lifetime. Handsome, rich, and widowed, Eddie Rochester is Jane's ticket into a normal life. However, the further Jane molds herself to fit into Eddie's world of wealth and glamour, the more she is tormented by the memory of Bea Rochester. As Jane digs further, the circumstances of Bea's death start to slowly morph into a complete picture, but not before Jane gets caught in the middle of a battle already raging. VERDICT With an even darker twist, this novel delivers a one-of-a-kind take on a well-known gothic tale. In addition to the suspenseful story line, the distorted love triangle and the impassivity of the Thornfield residents will have readers feeling simultaneously discombobulated and fulfilled. Recommended for all library mystery collections.—Carmen Clark, Elkhart Public Library, IN

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250245496
Publisher: St. Martin's Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/05/2021
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 76
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.20(d)

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