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Cover of The Wife Upstairs by Rachel HawkinsThe Wife Upstairs

by Rachel Hawkins

GENRE: Thriller, Domestic Suspense

While trying to escape her past, a good-natured dog walker begins working for the upscale residents in Thornfield Estates. While trying to catch the attention of a wealthy bachelor, she learns everyone has a past. Learning the residents’ secrets and surviving the cutthroat neighbors creates a suspenseful thriller.

Discussion Guide

Headshot of Rachel Hawkins Author Biography

Born in Virginia and raised in Alabama, Rachel Hawkins has been writing since kindergarten when her first book, a tense thriller involving a unicorn, a witch, and a princess, was called, “very imaginative!” by her teacher and “a searing work of genius” by her mother.

Since then, Rachel has written over a dozen books for children and adults (sadly all unicorn-free thus far), and been published in more than twenty countries. As Rachel Hawkins, she wrote the New York Times bestselling The Wife Upstairs, a Southern Gothic twist on Jane Eyre that the Southern Review of Books called, “a thrill ride,” and Entertainment Weekly dubbed, “a gothic thriller laced with arsenic.” Her latest thriller, Reckless Girls, also debuted on the New York Times list with Kirkus calling it, “a soapy, claustrophobic page-turner.”

When not writing modern Gothic thrillers as Rachel Hawkins, she also pens paranormal romantic comedies under the name Erin Sterling. Her debut romance, The Ex Hex, was a Book of the Month pick as well as a New York Times and USA Today Bestseller.

Rachel currently lives in Auburn, Alabama with her husband, son, and five cats. (Yes, five. She knows.). In her free time, she enjoys reading, cooking, and picking up an assortment of creative hobbies she will give up on after a week or two. - Author's website

More Titles By This Author



In her adult debut, YA author Hawkins (Royals, 2018) twists together the  suspense and storytelling of Jane Eyre with the  atmosphere, tension, and odd characters of a Southern-gothic novel into a tale of a young woman trying to escape her past. Jane walks the dogs of the rich socialites of Birmingham’s Thornfield Estates, understanding she’s an outsider. That is, until she meets Eddie Rochester. Eddie can give her everything she ever wanted. But as they prepare to marry, the death of Eddie’s first wife, Bea, and her best friend, Blanche, hangs over them, until Jane discovers that Bea may not be as much a part of Eddie’s past as she’d thought. The bleak setting provides the appropriate mood to each of Jane’s discoveries, leading to well-plotted surprises that may not be entirely shocking, especially for fans of Charlotte Brontë's work. First-person narration by Jane allows for a slow reveal of her past, and occasional perspectives from other characters provide clues to their motivations. An altogether sinister novel that will make readers of Jennifer McMahon, Ruth Ware, and Donna Tartt shudder. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Expect a lot of media coverage of (and therefore a lot of demand for) this Southern-gothic Jane Eyre adaptation. -- Tracy Babiasz (Reviewed 12/1/2020) (Booklist, vol 117, number 7, p29)

Publisher's Weekly

YA author Hawkins (Her Royal Highness) makes her adult debut with this spirited reboot of Jane Eyre. Shortly after starting to walk dogs in tony Thornfield Estates, a gated community in Birmingham, Ala., the penniless young woman calling herself Jane meets dashing recent widower Eddie Rochester—whose wealthy wife, Bea Mason, went missing and was presumed drowned in a boating mishap, along with her BFF Blanche Ingraham, six months earlier. Sparks fly, but plain Jane has a tough time living up to the legend of the glamorous Bea, who created the Southern Manors lifestyle brand. Then Blanche’s body is found, and it’s clear from the massive skull fracture that her death was no accident. As the police reopen their probe, an increasingly concerned Jane starts investigating Bea’s fate and what part, if any, Eddie played. Hawkins shows real wit in outsider Jane’s sharp-eyed take on the entitled ladies of Thornfield Estates, but the mercenarily motivated characters will put off some readers. Nonetheless, this suspenseful domestic thriller will keep readers turning the pages. Agent: Holly Root, Root Literary. (Jan.) --Staff (Reviewed 09/28/2020) (Publishers Weekly, vol 267, issue 39, p)


Cover of The Wife Between us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen The Wife Between Us
by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

A psychologically charged tale of suspense follows the unexpected twists that shape a divorce and second marriage that are anything but what they seem.

Cover of My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing My Lovely Wife
by Samantha Downing

A seemingly typical suburban husband discloses the secret ways that his wife of 15 years and he keep their marriage alive and chase away domestic boredom by orchestrating creative ways to get away with murder.

Cover of Tripping Arcadia by Kit Mayquist Tripping Arcadia
by Kit Mayquist

Med school dropout Lena is desperate for a job, any job, to help her parents, who are approaching bankruptcy after her father was injured and laid off nearly simultaneously. So when she is offered a position, against all odds, working for one of Boston’s most elite families, the illustrious and secretive Verdeaus, she knows she must accept—no matter how bizarre the interview or how vague the job description.

By day, she is assistant to the family doctor and his charge, Jonathan, the sickly, poetic, drunken heir to the family empire, who is as difficult as his illness is mysterious. By night, Lena discovers the more sinister side of the family, as she works overtime at their lavish parties, helping to hide their self-destructive tendencies... and trying not to fall for Jonathan’s alluring sister, Audrey. But when she stumbles upon the knowledge that the Verdeau patriarch is the one responsible for the ruin of her own family, Lena vows to get revenge—a poison-filled quest that leads her further into this hedonistic world than she ever bargained for, forcing her to decide how much, and whom, she's willing to sacrifice for payback.