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Review: The Family Remains by Lisa Jewell

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Last Updated on December 25, 2022 by Mary Elle

The Family Remains is the gripping, suspenseful thriller sequel to The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell.

If you haven’t yet read The Family Upstairs, I’m going to suggest that you head over to that book first because, although you could read each of them as standalone books, your experience with the second book will be much richer if you’ve already read the first in the series which is The Family Upstairs.

I must admit, I’ve been in the mood for mysteries and thrillers lately, and I had never read a Lisa Jewell book before The Family Upstairs. I wasn’t sure what to expect, because I am not a fan of mysteries that are too, too creepy.

Well, it seems I got past that issue with Lisa Jewell. I quickly devoured The Family Remains immediately after finishing The Family Upstairs, and now I’m on my third Lisa Jewell book.

My post will give you a short synopsis of the book along with my thoughts on whether you should read, reread or reconsider reading The Family Remains.

The Family Remains

view of london houses of parliament from the thames river with image of the family remains book cover and the words book review

The Family Remains by Lisa Jewell was published in 2022, and is the second book in a series that started with The Family Upstairs.

Lisa Jewell is a #1 New York Times and Sunday Times, bestselling British author. She lives in London with her family, and her books have been published worldwide in over 25 languages.

Lisa’s first book was published in 2000, and the story of how she got started writing is one that I love. You can find the whole story here, but basically, she was given a random writing challenge by a friend. She acted on that, fulfilled the challenge, and what she wrote for the challenge eventually turned into her first book.

I’m not sure that most authors dream of being authors one day. I think a lot of them sort of fall into it accidentally in some way. There are a lot of interesting stories like this out there, and that’s why I always like to know some things about the authors that I write about.

Publishers Synopsis of The Family Remains

Early one morning on the shore of the Thames, DCI Samuel Owusu is called to the scene of a gruesome discovery. When Owusu sends the evidence for examination, he learns the bones are connected to a cold case that left three people dead on the kitchen floor in a Chelsea mansion thirty years ago.

Rachel Rimmer has also received a shock—news that her husband, Michael, has been found dead in the cellar of his house in France. All signs point to an intruder, and the French police need her to come urgently to answer questions about Michael and his past that she very much doesn’t want to answer.

After fleeing London thirty years ago in the wake of a horrific tragedy, Lucy Lamb is finally coming home. While she settles in with her children and is just about to purchase their first-ever house, her brother takes off to find the boy from their shared past whose memory haunts their present.

As they all race to discover answers to these convoluted mysteries, they will come to find that they’re connected in ways they could have never imagined.

In this masterful standalone sequel to her haunting New York Times bestseller, The Family Upstairs, Lisa Jewell proves she is writing at the height of her powers with another jaw-dropping, intricate, and affecting novel about the lengths we will go to protect the ones we love and uncover the truth.

The Family Remains – What I Liked

After getting to know the fractured, obsessed, and creepy (some of them) characters in the first book in this series, The Family Upstairs, I enjoyed getting to know some of these characters years later once they were firmly entrenched in adulthood. We see Henry and Lucy again but this time as adults. And the baby also makes an appearance here as Libby. I like all of those characters, but especially Libby, who was a baby and therefore innocent of all the twisted events that took place in the first book.

Rachel was a character we got a brief glimpse of in the first book, and she really took center stage here. I like everything about Rachel.

Overall, the plot was twisted with lies, twists, turns, and secrets with an underlying backstory of the childhood trauma that happened in the first book in this series.

This book wasn’t quite as creepy as the first! That’s not to say there was no creep factor. There was, and some of it sort of happened off-page, because certain events actually occurred in the first book. But still, you knew there was some creepiness around and it was just the perfect amount to keep you completely engaged in this fast-paced thriller.

The Family Remains – What I Didn’t Like

The story in The Family Remains is told from several different timelines and perspectives. I got a little confused between the different timelines, as I did in The Family Upstairs which told the story in a similar fashion. Perhaps I didn’t pay enough attention to the year noted at the beginning of certain chapters, but it wasn’t until much further along in the book that I finally grasped the timelines and could figure out in which order certain events happened.

The Family Remains – Read, ReRead or Reconsider?

And now, for my 3 Rs of book reviews.

Should you read, reread or reconsider The Family Remains?

Read!

The Family Remains is a brilliantly complex and complicated book with the story told through multiple timelines and different character points of view. It definitely requires some concentration to keep all the facts straight, but I think it’s a must-read if you love psychological thrillers. This fast-paced book will keep you in suspense until the very end and it won’t disappoint you!

And speaking of the very end of the book, the last sentence does have me wondering whether there might be a third book.

I doubt it, as Lisa Jewell has said she doesn’t like to write sequels. So another sequel seems like too much to hope for. But, that last sentence! You’ll have to read The Family Remains to see what I’m talking about.


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