“The Family Remains” by Lisa Jewell – Book Review

With a sordid family history which originated in a desirable Chelsea neighbourhood of London, the children of the house featured in the author’s “The Family Upstairs” have reinvented themselves. Now, some twenty-six years later, they’ve built lives for themselves with fake backstories and assumed names.

Lucy Lamb (aka Marie Caron) is now living in London once again. She has three children. Libby (whom she gave birth to at the age of only fourteen), Marco (aged eleven), and Stella (aged six).

Rachel Gold has learned the hard way that the old adage “Marry in haste, repent in leisure” is all too true. A hasty marriage to Michael Rimmer has seen her emotionally and physically abused so she beat a hasty retreat from the husband she thought she knew… Now her jewelry design business is booming, but she hasn’t left her marriage behind completely…

Henry Lamb (aka Phinn Thomsen) is a wealthy man who has sought completeness his entire life. He is emotionally damaged, lonely, obsessive, and possibly dangerous?

DCI Samuel Owusu is the policeman in charge of an investigation into the discovery of a woman’s bones found in the Thames. He finds that the bones are those of musician Birdie Dunlop-Evers, and are linked to the tragic house on 16 Cheyne Walk. 

When I open a book by Lisa Jewell I know that I’m in for a rewarding reading experience. “The Family Remains” was an engrossing psychological thriller.

As with the previous book “The Family Upstairs“, the first chapters of this book were a tad confusing as there were a lot of different characters introduced. Once I got the characters straight in my head it was pure enjoyment from then on. Let me reassure you though that if you haven’t read “The Family Upstairs” the author has written enough backstory in this book that it does read as a stand-alone – but I feel I had a richer reading experience for having read the first one.

Told via several timelines, and from several different perspectives, the story came alive. Rachel, Lucy, and Henry each add a viewpoint that fully rounds out the narrative.

Libby Jones is now a wealthy woman due to the sale of the Chelsea mansion she inherited in the last book. She shared her windfall inheritance with her mother, Lucy, and her uncle, Henry. Libby’s viewpoint is not really introduced in this book.

Lucy’s story was particularly poignant. Rachel’s story was interesting and the most vivid to me. I enjoyed how her story was an off-shoot of the original plot, but was so cleverly connected to the other characters. Henry Lamb’s story shed light on just how damaged an individual he was – how the events of the first book affected him in adulthood.

This is a story of adults forever scarred by childhood trauma. A novel of seeking closure, marital disillusionment, familial solidarity, extortion, and historical crimes.

With myriad characters, story-lines, and even settings, this novel requires concentration on the part of reader.  Concentration that will pay off in spades for the vigilant reader. I do wonder however, if I missed something…. what ever happened to Clemency, Phinn’s sister, and the fourth adolescent to escape Cheyne Walk?

This was a brilliantly executed, very complicated plot with a denouement that wrapped everything up in a very satisfactory fashion. A multi-layered story which I can highly recommend. Lisa Jewell never disappoints.

This review was written voluntarily and my rating was in no way influenced by the fact that I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from Atria Books/Simon & Schuster via NetGalley.  ISBN: 9781982178918    384 pages

 Lisa Jewell was born in London in 1968.

She worked for the fashion chain Warehouse for three years as a PR assistant and then for Thomas Pink, the Jermyn Street shirt company for four years as a receptionist and PA. She started her first novel, Ralph’s Party, for a bet in 1996. She finished it in 1997 and it was published by Penguin books in May 1998. It went on to become the best-selling debut novel of that year.

She has since written a further ten novels, as is currently at work on her twelfth.

She now lives in an innermost part of north London with her husband Jascha, an IT consultant, her daughters, Amelie and Evie and her silver tabbies, Jack and Milly.

Follow Lisa Jewell on Twitter or Instagram.

About Fictionophile

Fiction reviewer ; Goodreads librarian. Retired library cataloger - more time to read! Loves books, gardening, and red wine. I have been a reviewer member of NetGalley since October 2013. I review titles offered by Edelweiss, and participate in blog tours with TLC Book Tours.
This entry was posted in Book Reviews, NetGalley, Psychological thrillers and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to “The Family Remains” by Lisa Jewell – Book Review

  1. Anonymous says:

    It was confusing getting into this book. Glad I didn’t get rid of it. I was very glad I read Family Upstairs before Family Remains. I was able to continue reading it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Fab review! I really need to find time to read both books soon.


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