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The Madwoman Upstairs
Cover of The Madwoman Upstairs
The Madwoman Upstairs
A Novel
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 only be solved by decoding the clues hidden within the Brontës' own writing.For readers 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.
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 only be solved by decoding the clues hidden within the Brontës' own writing.For readers 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.
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About the Author-
  • Catherine Lowell received her BA degree in creative writing from Stanford University, where she was awarded the Mary Steinbeck Dekker Award for Fiction and received two Stanford University arts grants. She is the vice president of content creation at the Ivy Company.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    January 11, 2016
    American Samantha Whipple’s hopes for an uneventful university career at Oxford are soon dashed when she realizes that everyone already knows her family story: she’s the last surviving twig of the Brontë family tree. What’s more, someone is frightening Samantha by surreptitiously planting her late father’s copies of Brontë novels in Samantha’s dorm room. Samantha had thought these were destroyed in the fire that killed her father several years earlier, but they may be cryptic clues to the mysterious Brontë estate Samantha stands to inherit. Samantha’s maddeningly demanding (and handsome) tutor, James Orville, is no help—he flat-out refuses to discuss the Brontës. Lowell’s debut novel offers some intriguing speculation about Brontë family dynamics, particularly with regard to the life and work of lesser-known sister Anne; the repeated discussions of authorial intent, however, will likely be glossed over by all but the most dedicated English majors. 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.

  • AudioFile Magazine When Samantha Whipple begins her studies at Oxford University, she is prepared for the inevitable attention. Not only is she the last descendant of the Bront‘ family but also it's thought, wrongly, that her late father left her a treasure-trove of literary memorabilia. Narrator Katie Koster's charming performance sweeps listeners into this well-paced story of Samantha's quest for her true inheritance, which takes her on a journey of self-discovery. 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 as she learns more about her famous cousins, her father's youth, and her own heart. Using an expressive, relaxed style, Koster connects listeners to the fun of Samantha's adventures. C.B.L. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2016, Portland, Maine
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The Madwoman Upstairs
A Novel
Catherine Lowell
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