In Catherine Lowell's smart and original debut novel, 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 only the clues her eccentric father left behind and the Brontës' own novels.
Samantha Whipple is used to stirring up speculation wherever she goes. Since her father's untimely death, she is the presumed heir to a long-rumored trove of diaries, paintings, letters, and early novel drafts passed down from the Brontë family - a hidden fortune never revealed to anyone outside the family but endlessly speculated on by Brontë scholars and fanatics. Samantha, however, has never seen this alleged estate, and for all she knows, it's just as fictional as Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights.
Yet everything changes when Samantha enrolls at Oxford University and long-lost objects from the past begin rematerializing in her life. Her father's distinctive copy of Jane Eyre, which should have perished in the fire that claimed his life, mysteriously appears on Samantha's bed. Annotated in her father's handwriting, the book is the first of many clues in an elaborate scavenger hunt derived from the world's greatest literature. With the help of a handsome but inscrutable professor, Samantha must plunge into a vast literary mystery and an untold family legacy - one that can be solved only by decoding the clues hidden within the Brontës' own writing.
For listeners who devoured The Weird Sisters and Special Topics in Calamity Physics, The Madwoman Upstairs is a suspenseful, exhilarating debut by an exciting new talent who offers a moving exploration of what it means when the greatest truth is, in fact, fiction.
©2016 Catherine Lowell (P)2016 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
"Koster's impressive emotional range captures Samantha's complex personality. She flawlessly portrays the girl's cheekiness as a cover for embarrassment and insecurity and perfectly captures her other emotions... Using an expressive, relaxed style, Koster connects listeners to the fun of Samantha's adventures." (AudioFile)
Mother of three beautiful daughters, grandmother to nine amazing grandchildren, attorney, 100 mile commute-audible books are sanity-savers
Yes, with a few caveats. The story is about a fresh-mouthed 20-year old who is more like a 16- year old. She is supposed to be very smart but she does a lot of immature things. I listened to the entire audio so that says something positive. The best parts of the story will happen the future and had happened in the past. Samantha (Sam) the narrator, is the last living relative of the Bronte sister, which seems to be a burden. Sam is a first year at Oxford, contending with a university rule book that is at least 300 years and a studly tutor who wacks the desk with a ruler to make a point. I kept hoping a few ghosts would show up, but none seemed to be around. I don't want to discourage you from listening to it--it is a good story and has mixed humor--some very funny. And it kept me interested during my long commute, which means it was entertaining.
Some of the worst writing since I forced myself through Twilight. I had to give up halfway through, no possible plot twist was worth the suffering.
The Madwoman Upstairs has an interesting set up, but the delivery is completely mistaken.
Our narrator is supposed to be a superstar English Lit. student from the U.S. entering the fictional Old College at Oxford. She is presumably highly intelligent and articulate because she beat out the competition in order to get into what is said to be Oxford's premier college.
From the evidence, however, our narrator seems to be about 13, a surly child with a bad attitude and not much imagination or wit. For example, when asked by her Tutor - the person who will determine whether she succeeds or fails at Old College - about her favorite authors, she clams up, refuses to speak on the subject, but invites him to name some for her. Incredibly, he doesn't throw her out, but starts naming eminent authors, all of which she shoots down with monosyllabic replies, no, maybe, etc. It leaves you wondering how it is you got stuck with a graphic novel without the pictures. Not deathless prose, not even mildly credible.
This novel is sort of like Southern iced tea, pre-sweetened to the point of inducing diabetic coma. It is precious to a fault; its characters are cardboard mannikins set up to deliver t.v. sitcom style soundbites so that the laugh track can play in the background.
Add to that a narrator who doubles down on the juvenile irony and sarcasm littering the text and you have a disaster.
A total waste of time. Don't bother.
Will love this book! The story reminded me of my first year at college, studying literature and learning to truly analyze an author's work! But what really hooked me was the love story. The author grabbed my heart and made me feel what the protagonist felt, my heart surged with hers.
The story line is good maybe even great. You want to know the answers to the puzzle. You spend a majority of your listening experience throwing out different hypotheses in your mind which is what you expect from a mystery novel. The main character is an entitled brat and is boarder line disrespectful. I ended up really disliking her.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and loved Katie Kosters performance. It was fun to hear about the sisters.
Can-Do-Ologist a Go-Go
If you ever watched episodes of Saved by the Bell, you're familiar with the level of maturity, wit, and literary sensibility of the main character, as well as the bluntly drawn personalities of the secondary characters.
The narrator does well. Her voice is pleasant and easy to listen to. I would listen to another book read by her with no reservations. The material she's reading was disappointing; her delivery of it was fine.
There are the makings of a great story in this book - thus the higher ranking for the story. This book, however, does them no justice. I cannot recommend it.
I enjoyed the literary "play" in the book. The characters came off a little contrived, however, sacrificed, presumably, for the literary conceit. Narration a little stilted, too, but it was a tough one to narrate. The plot was clever and the ending quite worth the read (listen).
I got this book because I thought the story sounded interesting and I was willing to take a chance in it, fully prepared to be utterly disappointed. I. Was. Not. This is a charming story full of memorable characters and a somewhat lighthearted mystery. It was well-written (despite some odd Anglo-Ameri phrase discrepancies (although told from the perspective of an American, some of the phrases she uses are very English so I was a little confused by the author's choices there), and well-performed. There were one or two atrociously mispronounced words but nothing that really rendered the book unlistenable. I would recommend this book to almost anyone.
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