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Extended Audio Sample The Madwoman Upstairs: A Novel, by Catherine Lowell Click for printable size audiobook cover
0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Catherine Lowell Narrator: Katie Koster Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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In Catherine Lowell’s smart and original debut novel, the only remaining descendant of the Brontë family embarks on a modern-day literary scavenger hunt to find the family’s long-rumored secret estate, using only the clues her eccentric father left behind and the Brontës’ own novels.

Samantha Whipple is used to stirring up speculation wherever she goes. Since her 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 the family but endlessly speculated on 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.

Yet everything changes when Samantha enrolls at Oxford University and long-lost objects from the past begin rematerializing in her life. Her father’s distinctive copy of Jane Eyre, which should have perished in the fire that claimed his life, mysteriously appears on Samantha’s bed. Annotated in her father’s handwriting, the book is the first of many clues in an elaborate scavenger hunt derived from the world’s greatest literature. With the help of a handsome but inscrutable professor, Samantha must plunge into a vast literary mystery and an untold family legacy, one that can only be solved by decoding the clues hidden within the Brontës’ own writing.

For readers who devoured The Weird Sisters and Special Topics in Calamity Physics, The Madwoman Upstairs is a suspenseful, exhilarating debut by an exciting new talent who offers a moving exploration of what it means when the greatest truth is, in fact, fiction.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A mystery, a love story, and a very dark comedy…about the traces that literature and our ancestors leave in us, and it is about memory as a token of love.”

    Charles Baxter, New York Times bestselling author

  • “You’ll find yourself laughing out loud even as she lures you deeper and deeper into this delicious mystery.”

    Anne Fortier, New York Times bestselling author

  • “Quirky characters and unpredictable plot twists make The Madwoman Upstairs a charming and memorable read.”

    Deborah Harkness, New York Times bestselling author

  • “Part mystery, part picaresque, Catherine Lowell’s The Madwoman Upstairs is a smartly conceived first novel.”


  • “[A] father’s legacy sets the scene for gothic intrigue…in Catherine Lowell’s irresistibly clever Oxford debut.”


  • “For those who like their Brontë with a side of wry, turn to the hilarious The Madwoman Upstairs.

    USA Today

  • “[A]piquant paean to the Brontë sisters.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “Smart, clever, and properly Gothic…Deftly, Lowell combines a rollicking treasure hunt with a wickedly dark story.”

    Minneapolis Star-Tribune

  • “A delightful reminder that how we read fiction matters.”

    Stanford Magazine (California)

  • “Narrator Katie Koster’s charming performance sweeps listeners into this well-paced story…Koster’s impressive emotional range captures Samantha’s complex personality. She flawlessly portrays the girl’s cheekiness as a cover for embarrassment and insecurity and perfectly captures her other emotions as she learns more about her famous cousins, her father’s youth, and her own heart. Using an expressive, relaxed style, Koster connects listeners to the fun of Samantha’s adventures. Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award.”


  • “The story line takes readers on a crazy ride of clues and reveals interesting facts about the Brontë family in the process. Lowell has hit it out of the ballpark with this novel.”

    RT Book Reviews (4½ stars, Top Pick!)

  • “Samantha’s journey through sorrow and even a little obsessive madness, coupled with the reality of the love story she gets wrapped up in, are stunningly representative of a young woman’s path to happiness and peace…Lowell crafts a first novel that is as enthralling as it is heartbreaking.”

    Library Journal (starred review)

  • “An enjoyable academic romp that successfully combines romance and intrigue, one that benefits from never taking itself too seriously.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “An entertaining and ultimately sweet story.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • A USA Today Pick of Jane Eyre Mashups
  • Winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award
  • A March 2016 LibraryReads Pick
  • An Indie Next List Selection for March 2016 
  • A New York Times Pick for The Brontes Shortlist 
  • A Library Journal First “Writes” of Spring Pick
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