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Publisher's Summary

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.

Critic Reviews

"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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.9 out of 5.0
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Story

  • 3.9 out of 5.0
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Marvelous

Intelligent, witty, charming, thought provoking. Ms. Lowell's courage in taking on the Brontes was worth it. Wonderful character development. Samantha's outlook on life, literature, family and herself made me laugh out loud.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Inspirational

This book has made me want to read more and read everything. I wish I had the time.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Yyyyyyyeeeeeesssss!

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Interesting and intriguing

This is not a type of book I usually read (listen to) but it sounded interesting and did not disappoint!!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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How dead relatives can ruin your life

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

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.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Extremely Captivating!

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I loved this book, the youthful and whit of the main character Samantha and the storyline captivated me from beginning to end, loved it!

Who was your favorite character and why?

Samantha Whittle with her unexpected dialogue.

What does Katie Koster bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Youthful, funny, dry

Who was the most memorable character of The Madwoman Upstairs and why?

Samantha Whittle

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A Witty Literary Romance

A smart young college student, a handsome professor, witty repartee, a mysterious gift from the deceased father....what's not to love.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Anyone who has a love for literature...

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.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Welp. Now I gotta reread Jane Eyre.

I think anyone who enjoyed Jane Eyre in their youth can see themselves in Samantha. Katie Koster is a rather enjoyable narrator who breathes youth and wit into the narrative without over acting. The Madwoman Upstairs has an incredibly strong first half that delighted and intrigued despite some foreseeable plot points. The ending loses some of that steam and, quite ironically, passion, but suffices.

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It did get better...but not much.

What did you like best about The Madwoman Upstairs? What did you like least?

Despite suffering along with a fairly dull protagonist and a writer who assumes she cannot write "Bronte" often enough because the reader/listener is too dull witted to connect the right dots, the story gradually gains traction by the 4th or 5th chapter.

What was most disappointing about Catherine Lowell’s story?

The writing was quite dull and redundant. Rather than flow as a natural, believable narrative the writing seemed to be following some recipe. Throw in a little of this and that....metaphors, salt, pepper, a few impressive 25 cent words, and never miss an opportunity to lasso in some connection worthier of greater admiration.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

Her voice tended to be flat, but she was perhaps only being authentic to the character as it was written.

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

Probably not

Any additional comments?

Was surprised at how many times the plot line and the narrative did not mesh.