“The Madwoman Upstairs” by Catherine Lowell


By Catherine Lowell

From the very beginning, you have got to love this book. I mean…don’t you just love this title? There is a huge percentage of people out there (including myself) who had to deal with just such a woman at least once in their lifetimes!

This particular story focuses on college student, Samantha Whipple, who is just starting out at Oxford. Samantha has the honor of being the last of the famous Brontes. That’s right! She is the last remaining descendant of the Bronte family; her father, Tristan, was descended from a cousin of Charlotte, Emily and Anne Bronte. It seems that Tristan died in a fire when Samantha was a teenager. He had told Samantha that she would inherit something called “The Warnings of Experience.” What’s that, you ask? Is it a manuscript from one of the aforementioned Brontes? (Of course I’m not going to tell you.)

Anyway, Samantha is a first-year student at Oxford when she meets a banker who will tell her about her legacy. She finds out that her father was beyond obsessed with his ancestors and she now hopes that studying the history of the Brontes will take her to a family legacy that is really nothing more than just a rumor.

Handed a shoebox that contains a bookmark, Samantha receives this first clue in what will turn out to be quite a treasure hunt. Someone else is also intruding, or perhaps pushing her down the Bronte path. At Oxford, in her 14th century tower room that was once used to quarantine plague victims, is a painting called “The Governess.” And as her journey moves forward, copies of Bronte novels start to appear in Samantha’s room; not just any old volumes, mind you, but her own dead father’s personal copies thought to be destroyed in the fire that took his life.

More to say? Not a chance. Any fans of the Bronte sisters, history, journeys through the past…all of you will eat this one up!

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