The Madwoman Upstairs : Bronte sisters’ last ancestor

A coming-of-age, quirky story about the Brontes’ last surviving ancestor, and the scavenger hunt her dead father sets for her from beyond the grave.


  • Enjoy creative fiction
  • Like books about authors
  • Enjoy light mysteries/scavenger hunt books
  • Like English settings

TitleThe Madwoman Upstairs | Author: Catherine LowellRating: 3.5/5

What an interesting and unusual read! The story itself wasn’t unique, but the premise was.

Samantha Whipple is used to stirring up speculation wherever she goes. Since her eccentric 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 of the family, but endlessly speculated about 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.

The book follows Samantha Whipple as she enrolls in Old College of Oxford University in England and begins her studies with a tutor who happens to be both alarmingly intelligent and handsome.

Samantha has a hard time agreeing with her tutor and their 1:1 studies, which the college mandates for all students. Samantha is studying literature, and though her own father taught her much, she’s finding that not everyone, including her tutor, agrees with what Samantha has learned. Most of all, her tutor refuses to work on Bronte sisters novels, even though Samantha ardently wants to study her ancestors’ works, albeit in an unconventional way.

Further, Samantha is finding gifts in the tower she resides in – a tower away from the others, isolated, cold, and very, very old. And what’s alarming about these gifts is they all belonged to her dead father.

Now Samantha is on the hunt, trying to unravel the mystery of her father’s life and the strange gifts that keep showing up on her doorstep. Not to mention trying to figure out who and what her tutor really is, and does he, maybe, just maybe, love her the way she loves him?

A fun, intriguing read, I definitely enjoyed it and looked forward to settling in with it every day. The story is an odd mixture of literature exploration, a love story, and a mystery. I don’t think it fits into any one genre. And what I loved the most was it explored the Bronte sisters’ works – Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, The Professor, and others.

I loved how the book both explored the Bronte books, providing different viewpoints on their lives, their writing, and their legacy, while also adding its own story to the mix.

The book itself didn’t have much that left me speechless, and even the mystery, though fun, wasn’t twisty.

A coming-of-age, quirky story about the Brontes’ last surviving ancestor, and the scavenger hunt her dead father sets for her from beyond the grave.

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