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"A massively entertaining and slyly enlightening story nestled inside another story like a ghost within its host." —Kathleen Rooney, author of Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey and Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk A provocative meditation on new motherhood—Shirley Jackson meets The Awakening—in which a postpartum woman’s psychological unraveling becomes intertwined with the ghostly "A massively entertaining and slyly enlightening story nestled inside another story like a ghost within its host." —Kathleen Rooney, author of Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey and Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk A provocative meditation on new motherhood—Shirley Jackson meets The Awakening—in which a postpartum woman’s psychological unraveling becomes intertwined with the ghostly appearance of children’s book writer Margaret Wise Brown. There’s a madwoman upstairs, and only Megan Weiler can see her. Ravaged and sore from giving birth to her first child, Megan is mostly raising her newborn alone while her husband travels for work. Physically exhausted and mentally drained, she’s also wracked with guilt over her unfinished dissertation—a thesis on mid-century children’s literature. Enter a new upstairs neighbor: the ghost of quixotic children’s book writer Margaret Wise Brown—author of the beloved classic Goodnight Moon—whose existence no one else will acknowledge. It seems Margaret has unfinished business with her former lover, the once-famous socialite and actress Michael Strange, and is determined to draw Megan into the fray. As Michael joins the haunting, Megan finds herself caught in the wake of a supernatural power struggle—and until she can find a way to quiet these spirits, she and her newborn daughter are in terrible danger. Using Megan’s postpartum haunting as a powerful metaphor for a woman’s fraught relationship with her body and mind, Julia Fine once again delivers an imaginative and “barely restrained, careful musing on female desire, loneliness, and hereditary inheritances” (Washington Post).


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"A massively entertaining and slyly enlightening story nestled inside another story like a ghost within its host." —Kathleen Rooney, author of Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey and Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk A provocative meditation on new motherhood—Shirley Jackson meets The Awakening—in which a postpartum woman’s psychological unraveling becomes intertwined with the ghostly "A massively entertaining and slyly enlightening story nestled inside another story like a ghost within its host." —Kathleen Rooney, author of Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey and Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk A provocative meditation on new motherhood—Shirley Jackson meets The Awakening—in which a postpartum woman’s psychological unraveling becomes intertwined with the ghostly appearance of children’s book writer Margaret Wise Brown. There’s a madwoman upstairs, and only Megan Weiler can see her. Ravaged and sore from giving birth to her first child, Megan is mostly raising her newborn alone while her husband travels for work. Physically exhausted and mentally drained, she’s also wracked with guilt over her unfinished dissertation—a thesis on mid-century children’s literature. Enter a new upstairs neighbor: the ghost of quixotic children’s book writer Margaret Wise Brown—author of the beloved classic Goodnight Moon—whose existence no one else will acknowledge. It seems Margaret has unfinished business with her former lover, the once-famous socialite and actress Michael Strange, and is determined to draw Megan into the fray. As Michael joins the haunting, Megan finds herself caught in the wake of a supernatural power struggle—and until she can find a way to quiet these spirits, she and her newborn daughter are in terrible danger. Using Megan’s postpartum haunting as a powerful metaphor for a woman’s fraught relationship with her body and mind, Julia Fine once again delivers an imaginative and “barely restrained, careful musing on female desire, loneliness, and hereditary inheritances” (Washington Post).

30 review for The Upstairs House

  1. 4 out of 5

    Julia

    I mean, I had to, right?

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader

    From the synopsis: A provocative meditation on new motherhood—Shirley Jackson meets The Awakening—in which a postpartum woman’s psychological unraveling becomes intertwined with the ghostly appearance of children’s book writer Margaret Wise Brown. My thoughts: The Upstairs House literally gave me the chills. It’s eerie and foreboding. I worried about the characters. Megan is a new mom, and she’s often alone with her newborn. This book is imaginative and unique, one that will make you think and fe From the synopsis: A provocative meditation on new motherhood—Shirley Jackson meets The Awakening—in which a postpartum woman’s psychological unraveling becomes intertwined with the ghostly appearance of children’s book writer Margaret Wise Brown. My thoughts: The Upstairs House literally gave me the chills. It’s eerie and foreboding. I worried about the characters. Megan is a new mom, and she’s often alone with her newborn. This book is imaginative and unique, one that will make you think and feel. I highlighted, I tabbed, I re-read passages as Megan navigates this world of the horrors haunting her house, alongside the challenges of new motherhood. I received a gifted copy. Many of my reviews can also be found on my blog: www.Jennifer tarheelreader.com and instagram: www.instagram.com/tarheelreader

  3. 4 out of 5

    Julia Phillips

    Chills. I found this book about a haunting to be haunting — unsettling, nerve-racking, worrisome, strange. I fretted over the characters when I wasn’t reading it and ached for them when I was. Loved it so very much.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sara Murphy

    "I had so much control; I had no control at all." When Megan brings her infant daughter home, she's tired and overwhelmed, ambivalent about the intense physical and psychological demands of new motherhood, and also haunted by her abandoned dissertation. When author Margaret Wise Brown starts showing up in Megan's life, it's almost a welcome reprieve from the monotony of childcare - never mind that Margaret is long dead. But when Michael Strange, Margaret's tempestuous and unpredictable lover, sho "I had so much control; I had no control at all." When Megan brings her infant daughter home, she's tired and overwhelmed, ambivalent about the intense physical and psychological demands of new motherhood, and also haunted by her abandoned dissertation. When author Margaret Wise Brown starts showing up in Megan's life, it's almost a welcome reprieve from the monotony of childcare - never mind that Margaret is long dead. But when Michael Strange, Margaret's tempestuous and unpredictable lover, shows up too, Megan's life begins to unravel. I'm blown away by how Fine balances the tender, ordinary details of motherhood - the message boards, the late-night loneliness, the breast pumps and diaper changes - with an ominous and unsettling ghost story. And the insights into the publishing career of Margaret Wise Brown have given me an entirely new appreciation of the children's books she left behind. This is also an important book for its exploration of postpartum depression/psychosis, which so often goes unacknowledged beneath the illusion that new motherhood is all cozy bliss. Fine viscerally captures what it's like to have huge new responsibilities while also feeling completely vulnerable yourself, and how painfully simple it is to slip through the cracks in full view of your loved ones. This book is going to stick with me.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Georgette

    I don't have children, but after reading this postpartum-influenced ghost story (I'm sure I will revise the wording later but right now it works), I felt like I did. I got into that character's head real quick. For good measure, throw in the ghost of children's author Margaret Wise Brown and you have a novel with a premise so unusual that I'm sure no one can say they have read anything like this before. I also really liked that it is do different from her first book, which I loved. Definitely en I don't have children, but after reading this postpartum-influenced ghost story (I'm sure I will revise the wording later but right now it works), I felt like I did. I got into that character's head real quick. For good measure, throw in the ghost of children's author Margaret Wise Brown and you have a novel with a premise so unusual that I'm sure no one can say they have read anything like this before. I also really liked that it is do different from her first book, which I loved. Definitely enjoyed

  6. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    i’ve been impatiently, desperately, waiting for this book since the moment i finished what should be wild and saw the first description for this on goodreads, which combined everything i could wish for in a book—hauntings, motherhood, the legacies of modernist writers, bonus ghost sex. obviously i loved it—the claustrophobic horror, the reality and surreality of having a child, the humor and wickedness in megan’s thoughts (whom i loved, deeply), the empathy, the narrative structure, the delibera i’ve been impatiently, desperately, waiting for this book since the moment i finished what should be wild and saw the first description for this on goodreads, which combined everything i could wish for in a book—hauntings, motherhood, the legacies of modernist writers, bonus ghost sex. obviously i loved it—the claustrophobic horror, the reality and surreality of having a child, the humor and wickedness in megan’s thoughts (whom i loved, deeply), the empathy, the narrative structure, the deliberate weight each word possessed. if you don’t read this book we can’t be friends anymore.

  7. 4 out of 5

    niri

    julia fine writes so very beautifully — i have pages and pages of this book highlighted. haunting, clever, inventive. i loved it. thank you edelweiss+ and the publishers for the arc.

  8. 4 out of 5

    LordOfDorkness

    This book is like getting invited out for a nice hike through the woods with a good friend except your forgot to bring your own shoes so you have to borrow your friend's which after about two hours you realize have all these little pebbles in them but you can't seem to find a good place to stop and shake them out and your friend's just so gung-ho out about the whole thing that you just keep walking and walking and the weather is good and the views within the forest are nice and then its only hou This book is like getting invited out for a nice hike through the woods with a good friend except your forgot to bring your own shoes so you have to borrow your friend's which after about two hours you realize have all these little pebbles in them but you can't seem to find a good place to stop and shake them out and your friend's just so gung-ho out about the whole thing that you just keep walking and walking and the weather is good and the views within the forest are nice and then its only hours later when its all over and you're driving home that you can't help but think that even though its nice to get out into the woods now and then the walk really was a bit too long and that you're feat actually really hurt now and you're left with the sneaking suspicion that your good friend might be a bit of an asshole.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Brenna Lemieux

    Hoo, boy. I read this on maternity leave with my first kid and it was tough. It hits so close to home--the experiences Fine captures here are visceral, vivid, terrifying. An exploration of a new parent's greatest fears realized. The book is spooky and captivating--the kind I had to put down several times because of how hard it got to me. I think it's because the supernatural elements here are woven into the mundane so stealthily that the reader starts to feel as dislocated / out-of-body as the m Hoo, boy. I read this on maternity leave with my first kid and it was tough. It hits so close to home--the experiences Fine captures here are visceral, vivid, terrifying. An exploration of a new parent's greatest fears realized. The book is spooky and captivating--the kind I had to put down several times because of how hard it got to me. I think it's because the supernatural elements here are woven into the mundane so stealthily that the reader starts to feel as dislocated / out-of-body as the main character. Anyway, read this but proceed with caution if you're a brand-new parent.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen

    "I do think that sometimes it takes a recalibration to confront the obvious. It takes an escape, then a return. And this was the obvious that I'd been skirting, the ugliness I'd been avoiding, the shard of glass in the corner of my eye: I wasn't sure that I enjoyed being a mother. But maybe I did" (230). "I do think that sometimes it takes a recalibration to confront the obvious. It takes an escape, then a return. And this was the obvious that I'd been skirting, the ugliness I'd been avoiding, the shard of glass in the corner of my eye: I wasn't sure that I enjoyed being a mother. But maybe I did" (230).

  11. 4 out of 5

    KC

    What do you do when you discover the spirit of famed children's writer, Margaret Wise Brown, living in the upstairs stairwell of your apartment building? New mother Megan befriends the woman and in doing so reveals a second spirit, Brown's secret lesbian lover, poet and socialite, Michael Strange. Between attempting the fine balancing act of parenting, work, and family, alongside daily ghostly antics, Megan steps between reality and possible psychosis. For fans of Shirley Jackson. What do you do when you discover the spirit of famed children's writer, Margaret Wise Brown, living in the upstairs stairwell of your apartment building? New mother Megan befriends the woman and in doing so reveals a second spirit, Brown's secret lesbian lover, poet and socialite, Michael Strange. Between attempting the fine balancing act of parenting, work, and family, alongside daily ghostly antics, Megan steps between reality and possible psychosis. For fans of Shirley Jackson.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Taylor

    The Upstairs House by Julia Fine is a surreal yet honest story about motherhood, identity, and family. It focuses heavily on the postpartum period in a particular woman’s life, which will strike a chord with many. Even as a woman without children, I was pulled in by the main character’s worries and fears. Her feelings were visceral, heightening the intensity of the story. Sure, it’s a little ‘out there’ in its execution, but its themes are grounded in reality. I wouldn’t call this a horror novel, The Upstairs House by Julia Fine is a surreal yet honest story about motherhood, identity, and family. It focuses heavily on the postpartum period in a particular woman’s life, which will strike a chord with many. Even as a woman without children, I was pulled in by the main character’s worries and fears. Her feelings were visceral, heightening the intensity of the story. Sure, it’s a little ‘out there’ in its execution, but its themes are grounded in reality. I wouldn’t call this a horror novel, per se. It’s more unsettling – especially for new mothers or mothers-to-be (I would assume). Other than that, I’d say the story is literary fiction, with some history mixed in. I was fascinated by the lives of Margaret Wise Brown and Michael Strange, and I appreciated the research that was included. Megan’s apathy toward her husband bothered me somewhat, but you can’t deny it’s honest and raw. Overall, this was a well-written, unique, and emotional story. **Thank you Harper Books for the gifted review copy!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    a ghost story, a love story. all exorcisms are really sapphic breakups. I loved this!!!!! “In ghost stories, we generally discover what the haunting signifies. By the end of the story or the novel or the film we know who died and why they’re restless, we know that somebody disturbed some ancient orb or moved into a toxic house. But in the story of my life I couldn’t say why I was haunted, why I needed these women, in this moment, and why they needed me. There is a room, and in it are objects, and a ghost story, a love story. all exorcisms are really sapphic breakups. I loved this!!!!! “In ghost stories, we generally discover what the haunting signifies. By the end of the story or the novel or the film we know who died and why they’re restless, we know that somebody disturbed some ancient orb or moved into a toxic house. But in the story of my life I couldn’t say why I was haunted, why I needed these women, in this moment, and why they needed me. There is a room, and in it are objects, and I suppose that is enough.”

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Laguna

    "'In the 16th century the word baby meant the tiny image of oneself seen in the pupil of another person's eye.'" This book. This book was SO GOOD. How many thrillers give you chills and also bring you to tears? My copy is full of highlights because the writing is so beautiful and concise and insightful and full of depth. And original AF. I loved this book, I loved everything about it. Megan and Ben have just had their first child, Clara. Prior to Clara's birth, Megan was working on her dissertati "'In the 16th century the word baby meant the tiny image of oneself seen in the pupil of another person's eye.'" This book. This book was SO GOOD. How many thrillers give you chills and also bring you to tears? My copy is full of highlights because the writing is so beautiful and concise and insightful and full of depth. And original AF. I loved this book, I loved everything about it. Megan and Ben have just had their first child, Clara. Prior to Clara's birth, Megan was working on her dissertation about mid-century children's literature. So when the late Margaret Wise Brown, the legendary children's author, suddenly appears to have moved in upstairs, behind a turquoise door that wasn't there before, Megan hardly bats an eye. Megan and Margaret become friends and Margaret tells Megan she is waiting for Michael--Michael being Michael Strange, whom Margaret had a tumultuous love affair with prior to her death. Michael was an arrogant, rich socialite who thought of herself as an artist and disparaged Margaret's success. So when strange things begin to happen in Megan's condo--windows open of their own accord, fans turn on and lights brighten and dim, Megan attributes these events to Michael's ghost. As Megan struggles to find peace in her new role as a mother and simultaneously understand what Michael wants from her and Clara, the tensions just builds and builds. This novel is a haunting look into postpartum life, the relationship between a mother and her child (and a child to her mother) and the legacy we leave behind. *Please note I am quoting from uncorrected advanced review copy and changes may be made prior to publication.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Immersive and haunting, this story uses one woman's experience with post-partum psychosis to further explore parenthood, gender roles, dependency, and professional versus personal desires. My qualms were the uneven pacing, including the abrupt ending. Immersive and haunting, this story uses one woman's experience with post-partum psychosis to further explore parenthood, gender roles, dependency, and professional versus personal desires. My qualms were the uneven pacing, including the abrupt ending.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Rachel S

    If you're looking for a bog-standard haunted house story, move along. The Upstairs House is uses the supernatural as allegory to explore the experiences of motherhood. After returning home from the hospital with her newborn, first-time mom Megan discovers the ghost of children's book writer Margaret Wise-Brown in a secret room upstairs - who just happens to be the subject of her abandoned thesis. Predictably, the woman and the room itself are only visible to Megan; her husband is oblivious to an If you're looking for a bog-standard haunted house story, move along. The Upstairs House is uses the supernatural as allegory to explore the experiences of motherhood. After returning home from the hospital with her newborn, first-time mom Megan discovers the ghost of children's book writer Margaret Wise-Brown in a secret room upstairs - who just happens to be the subject of her abandoned thesis. Predictably, the woman and the room itself are only visible to Megan; her husband is oblivious to any of the happenings, or out of town, leaving Megan, exhausted and freshly postpartum, to figure out how to stop the quarreling ghosts and keep her baby safe. I liked how to supernatural was used as a reflection of Megan's inner turmoil. She is literally being haunted by her neglected thesis - the one she has had to give up writing during the course of her pregnancy. We can see her guilt and frustration at quitting her education to raise her child while her husband continues work as normal. In addition, the fiery relationship between the spirits Margaret and her partner Michael act as a foil against Megan's fizzling marriage. There's a lot of great stuff about how much shit mothers are expected to suffer with a smile on their face, and the lack of help available to them. The writing was easy to read but otherwise unnoteworthy, but overall I enjoyed this book much more than I expected.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Katrina Feraco

    Masterful storytelling, and a powerful exploration of a part of motherhood rarely brought to light.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Cindy

    "Sleep was a distant memory, and I was a cow, and a human had come out of my vagina. Why shouldn't Margaret Wise Brown live upstairs?" ** Yep. Why the fuck shouldn't she? Pretty much anything can seem reasonable when you're sleep deprived, isolated, and struggling to survive life with a newborn. Everything has been turned upside down in Megan's life following the birth of her first child, Clara. One day Megan finds a doorway she's never seen before in the stairwell of her condo building, and behi "Sleep was a distant memory, and I was a cow, and a human had come out of my vagina. Why shouldn't Margaret Wise Brown live upstairs?" ** Yep. Why the fuck shouldn't she? Pretty much anything can seem reasonable when you're sleep deprived, isolated, and struggling to survive life with a newborn. Everything has been turned upside down in Megan's life following the birth of her first child, Clara. One day Megan finds a doorway she's never seen before in the stairwell of her condo building, and behind the door is "Goodnight Moon" author Margaret Wise Brown getting things ready for the arrival of her fellow ghost girlfriend, Michael Strange. There are cold drafts and weird noises, objects move, lights flicker - Megan is haunted and isolated and becoming increasingly untethered from reality. Julia Fine does an excellent job balancing the ordinary horrors of new motherhood with the supernatural horrors of a haunting and the psychological horrors of postpartum depression. I loved this book and can't stop thinking about it. Side note: Goodnight Moon is creepy AF - after 9,000 readings of it with my kids when they were small, remembering saying "goodnight nobody" still gives me the heeby-jeebies. ** Quotes were taken from an uncorrected advanced review copy and changes may be made prior to publication. Thank you to NetGalley and Harper Books for the eARC for review. Publication date: 2/23/21

  19. 4 out of 5

    Coley

    This novel is the tale of Megan, a mother who gives birth to her daughter, Clara, and is suddenly haunted by her “upstairs neighbor” Margaret, who is preparing for the return of her lover Michael. Of course, both of those people, only Megan and Clara can see. I didn’t find this story to be haunting, riveting or even the least bit creepy. I was concerned it would be postpartum depression or psychosis, but the backstory and the plot just didn’t do it for me. I found the main character to be just s This novel is the tale of Megan, a mother who gives birth to her daughter, Clara, and is suddenly haunted by her “upstairs neighbor” Margaret, who is preparing for the return of her lover Michael. Of course, both of those people, only Megan and Clara can see. I didn’t find this story to be haunting, riveting or even the least bit creepy. I was concerned it would be postpartum depression or psychosis, but the backstory and the plot just didn’t do it for me. I found the main character to be just slightly tolerable and the absence of her husband so frequently just too convenient and weird. 1.5 stars from me.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Amy Gentry

    By turns funny, eerie, suspenseful, and wild, Julia Fine's THE UPSTAIRS HOUSE took me completely out of myself. Probing the sore spots of new motherhood and the power of language, Fine's Russian-doll narrative lives in the narrow space between childhood dreams and grown-up nightmares. Like Rebecca Makkai and Lydia Millet, Julia Fine is, first and foremost, a unique and ultra-talented voice with something urgent to say. I'll be reading everything she writes from now on. By turns funny, eerie, suspenseful, and wild, Julia Fine's THE UPSTAIRS HOUSE took me completely out of myself. Probing the sore spots of new motherhood and the power of language, Fine's Russian-doll narrative lives in the narrow space between childhood dreams and grown-up nightmares. Like Rebecca Makkai and Lydia Millet, Julia Fine is, first and foremost, a unique and ultra-talented voice with something urgent to say. I'll be reading everything she writes from now on.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    The Upstairs House My thanks to #NetGalley for this eBook in exchange for an honest review. Hauntingly unsettling, this story of postpartum psychosis, self-reflection, and an unfinished dissertation on a famous children’s author. Finding herself alone with her new baby, unsure how to begin her new life as a mother, Megan befriends the woman living upstairs . . . where there was no upstairs before. The woman turns out to be Margaret Wise Brown, the subject of Megan’s dissertation, and who had died The Upstairs House My thanks to #NetGalley for this eBook in exchange for an honest review. Hauntingly unsettling, this story of postpartum psychosis, self-reflection, and an unfinished dissertation on a famous children’s author. Finding herself alone with her new baby, unsure how to begin her new life as a mother, Megan befriends the woman living upstairs . . . where there was no upstairs before. The woman turns out to be Margaret Wise Brown, the subject of Megan’s dissertation, and who had died nearly fifty years prior. Their friendship is complicated by the appearance of Michael, Margaret’s controlling lesbian lover. Scary and compelling, this is a book that brings to light the horrors of postpartum depression . . . literally. A terrifying read.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Leslie Lindsay

    A terribly haunting and visceral take on the delicate postpartum period, featuring the ghost of children's author Margaret Wise Brown. When I first learned of THE UPSTAIRS HOUSE (forthcoming from Harper, February 2021) by Julia Fine, I knew I had to get my hands on it. Not only does it feature 'house' in the title and cover, but it's surrealistic, feministic, and provocative, melding present-day with the past, a genre-bending exploration of children's literature, folktale, literature, hor A terribly haunting and visceral take on the delicate postpartum period, featuring the ghost of children's author Margaret Wise Brown. When I first learned of THE UPSTAIRS HOUSE (forthcoming from Harper, February 2021) by Julia Fine, I knew I had to get my hands on it. Not only does it feature 'house' in the title and cover, but it's surrealistic, feministic, and provocative, melding present-day with the past, a genre-bending exploration of children's literature, folktale, literature, horror, and more. Truly, THE UPSTAIRS HOUSE is a read unlike any other. Megan Weiler is home from the hospital after giving birth to a beautiful baby girl , her first child. Her husband, Ben is around, but not near enough, he must travel for work (in this sense, THE UPSTAIRS HOUSE reminds me a bit of Helen Phillips's THE NEED), leaving Megan alone with infant Clara. Megan is physically exhausted and mentally drained and plus, she's still stewing on that unfinished dissertation, the one about midcentury children's literature , specifically the life and contribution of Margaret Wise Brown--author of the beloved classic, GOODNIGHT MOON. THE UPSTAIRS HOUSE vacillates between the present-day (2017) new motherhood, and the 1940s-1950s, the publishing woes and love affair of Margaret Wise Brown and her lesbian lover, the once-socialite and actress, Michael Strange. But it's also a horror story, in a sense, because Megan is seeing--and interacting--with the ghosts of these women. Here, the reader must suspend reality a bit, but those who are accustomed to speculative fiction will appreciate the dichotomy of this tale. I found I was particularly enthralled with the descriptions of Margaret Wise Brown's writing , the *way* she wrote, how children's literature emerged, why (and when) it became different, focusing on the sounds the words made, rather than pure entertainment or simplicity. I also enjoyed learning about the various homes and cottages inhabited by Margaret Wise Brown. As for the postpartum period, Fine does such a fabulous job of painting a lucid portrait of all-encompassing exhaustion, which is at once both visceral and captivating. I was reminded of the work of Kate Hamer (THE GIRL IN THE RED COAT and also THE DOLL FUNERAL) as I read THE UPSTAIRS HOUSE, and because of children's literature, I thought much of the life and work of Virginia Lee Burton (THE LITTLE HOUSE). There were elements of Andromeda Romano-Lax's BEHAVE , but in terms of postpartum psychosis, one might want to look to INFERNO (Catherine Cho) and also Helen Phillips's THE NEED. For all my reviews, including author interviews, please see: www.leslielindsay.com|Always with a Book. Special thanks to Harper for this review copy. All thoughts are my own.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kim McGee

    A newborn, a husband who travels frequently, and an unfinished dissertation on children's literature does not mix as Megan soon finds out. She is struggling with the 24/7 needs of the baby so when she has a strange encounter with the hidden upstairs neighbor who happens to be children's author Margaret Wise Brown and no one else sees her - we think she is headed for the Psych ward. The ghost of Margaret is kind and grandmotherly enough but her lover, Michael Strange is all poltergeist. Soon Mega A newborn, a husband who travels frequently, and an unfinished dissertation on children's literature does not mix as Megan soon finds out. She is struggling with the 24/7 needs of the baby so when she has a strange encounter with the hidden upstairs neighbor who happens to be children's author Margaret Wise Brown and no one else sees her - we think she is headed for the Psych ward. The ghost of Margaret is kind and grandmotherly enough but her lover, Michael Strange is all poltergeist. Soon Megan and her baby find themselves in danger as tubs overflow, fires set themselves and lightbulbs shatter under Michael's influence. This is a deep dark journey down the rabbit hole of post-partum depression and sleep deprivation as well as a look at two unfulfilled women separated by years yet joined in their feelings of inadequacy. A little bit of horror and a little bit psychological thriller, it flips you around so you are not sure if you are joining Megan in a dream or a nightmare. My thanks to the publisher for the advance copy.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kate Wisel

    Review to come!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Mary Beth

    The Upstairs House is a well-written book that captures the feelings and emotions of being a new mother. Megan gives birth to a beautiful daughter, but immediately feels some postpartum depression and anxiety. Her husband helps (some) but also has to travel for work. Megan discovers a door in her apartment building that no one else seems to be able to see, and through that door, she walks into the life of Margaret Wise Brown. Megan was writing her dissertation about Brown and the movement in chi The Upstairs House is a well-written book that captures the feelings and emotions of being a new mother. Megan gives birth to a beautiful daughter, but immediately feels some postpartum depression and anxiety. Her husband helps (some) but also has to travel for work. Megan discovers a door in her apartment building that no one else seems to be able to see, and through that door, she walks into the life of Margaret Wise Brown. Megan was writing her dissertation about Brown and the movement in children's literature away from the fantastical to the more realistic. Unfortunately, letting Margaret into her life also lets in her lover, Michael Strange, who is a more malevolent spirit. She opens windows, locks Megan out on the balcony, turns on the gas stove full blast and makes her presence known in ways that makes Megan look unbalanced. When reading this book, I felt myself go back in time to when I had a newborn in the house. You aren't sure what is real and what is fantasy, you aren't sure if you like this little creature who relies on you for everything and doesn't let you sleep, and yet you love your child so much. You simultaneously want to go back to your old life where you slept and ate when you wanted to and were free to go anywhere, and to never leave this moment of time right now when your child is beginning to explore the world and nothing else matters but them. The flashbacks to Margaret and Michael's life were very interesting. I hadn't known anything about Margaret Wise Brown's life before, and she did lead an interesting life. I liked that the book was written in a way that you believe Megan is really experiencing these hauntings and don't really know until the end if they are real or imaginary. However, real or imaginary, the hauntings illuminate how strange those postpartum months can be for a new mother, and how easy it is to lose yourself in the minutiae of caring for a baby. Thanks to Netgalley for an advance copy for my unbiased review!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Ze

    Megan Weiler is experiencing postpartum physical and mental drainage and exhaustion. She cannot come to terms with having a baby to care for and is undergoing guilt over her unfinished dissertation on mid-century children’s literature. Margaret Wise Brown, mid 20th century author of children’s books, who is the main focus of Megan’s thesis, moves upstairs and causes racket that no one else seems to acknowledge but Megan. Megan becomes entangled in the tumultuous relationship of Margaret Wise Brow Megan Weiler is experiencing postpartum physical and mental drainage and exhaustion. She cannot come to terms with having a baby to care for and is undergoing guilt over her unfinished dissertation on mid-century children’s literature. Margaret Wise Brown, mid 20th century author of children’s books, who is the main focus of Megan’s thesis, moves upstairs and causes racket that no one else seems to acknowledge but Megan. Megan becomes entangled in the tumultuous relationship of Margaret Wise Brown and Michael Strange, these mid 20th century artists who seem to haunt her and her daughter. The prose is poignant and intentional filled to the brim with brilliant metaphors and quotable heartbreaking truths of the woman’s experience. I truly appreciated the effort to shed light to the experiences of women suffering from postpartum disorders and to voice their struggles. However, I felt miserable while reading this book and If that was the author’s intent then well done she totally achieved that. But for me it was anxiety inducing to read a portrayal of motherhood at its worst possible outcome, however true and close to their experiences that may be for some people. I think it just wasn’t the book for me or I simply wasn’t in the correct mindset to appreciate what it was trying to convey. From the synopsis I gathered that it was going to be more of a thriller and I was completely wrong on my assumptions. Also I just didn’t really care for Megan’s excerpts of her thesis and the life story of Margaret Wise Brown and Michael Strange. I found those sections of the book boring and completely uninteresting to me.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Elis Aaron

    Thank you to Netgalley and Harper for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. "How would I hide from a part of myself?" Some mothers take to their newborns as soon as their baby meets their chest. Some mothers find it difficult to connect for a time, needing to get used to caring for their child outside the womb before they begin to feel comfortable. And another set of mothers lose themselves amidst all the crying, sleeplessness, and constant feeding, wondering if they love their bab Thank you to Netgalley and Harper for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. "How would I hide from a part of myself?" Some mothers take to their newborns as soon as their baby meets their chest. Some mothers find it difficult to connect for a time, needing to get used to caring for their child outside the womb before they begin to feel comfortable. And another set of mothers lose themselves amidst all the crying, sleeplessness, and constant feeding, wondering if they love their baby or just feel compelled to keep them alive. Megan is one of the latter, struggling constantly to do best by her daughter, Clara. Her thesis has been pushed aside for months, as has work of any kind. All she's expected to do is feed Clara, change Clara, and soothe Clara when she cries -- something that Megan cannot seem to enjoy. What to do, then, when Megan meets a new, unexpected (and probably ghostly) neighbor? And what to do after that neighbor lets in a poltergeist with far more demands and anger than Megan can keep up with? This is the crux of Julia Fine's magnificent story, but Fine reaches further to investigate feelings of failure surrounding motherhood, hysteria from a woman's perspective, toxic relationships that persist beyond the grave, what constitutes art, choosing between a career and a family, and the all-too-haunting realities of post-partum depression and (perhaps) psychosis. The all-too-real vies for space with the speculative, building complexity matched by the main character herself as she grows into her own version of motherhood that, despite the interruptions from the dead, remains fully grounded in reality. Pick up this book. Begin to read. And prepare to keep turning pages, madly hoping to understand the haunt and its mysteries.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Alyssa

    Thank you to @harperbooks and Julia Fine for my gifted copy of The Upstairs House! It’s out on February 23rd. Synopsis: Ravaged and sore from giving birth to her first child, Megan is mostly raising her newborn alone while her husband travels for work. Physically exhausted and mentally drained, she’s also wracked with guilt over her unfinished dissertation—a thesis on mid-century children’s literature. Enter a new upstairs neighbor: the ghost of quixotic children’s book writer Margaret Wise Brown Thank you to @harperbooks and Julia Fine for my gifted copy of The Upstairs House! It’s out on February 23rd. Synopsis: Ravaged and sore from giving birth to her first child, Megan is mostly raising her newborn alone while her husband travels for work. Physically exhausted and mentally drained, she’s also wracked with guilt over her unfinished dissertation—a thesis on mid-century children’s literature. Enter a new upstairs neighbor: the ghost of quixotic children’s book writer Margaret Wise Brown—author of the beloved classic Goodnight Moon—whose existence no one else will acknowledge. It seems Margaret has unfinished business with her former lover, the once-famous socialite and actress Michael Strange, and is determined to draw Megan into the fray. As Michael joins the haunting, Megan finds herself caught in the wake of a supernatural power struggle—and until she can find a way to quiet these spirits, she and her newborn daughter are in terrible danger. Y’all, this book was INTENSE. I couldn’t put it down, and even did some more research on Margaret Wise Brown after reading it. Fine’s writing brings you into Megan’s world and doesn’t let you go. It’s vivid and makes you feel as if you are right there, next to Megan, having the same experience as her. It would be fantastic to discuss the different characters and themes in this book with a group (the supportive and loving husband, concerned sister, parenthood, gender roles, and more). It’s hard to write this review and convey how powerful Fine’s writing was. If you’re able to handle the triggers, I’d recommend giving this one a try. Please feel free to send me a DM if you want more details on any of them before you start reading. CW: Postpartum depression, anxiety, and psychosis

  29. 5 out of 5

    Katy Stankevitz

    Rating: 4.5 stars Recommend? This will be one of those books that people either absolutely love or really, really dislike. It's definitely weird - reminded me both of The Need and of Bunny - and not for the faint of heart. When Megan brings her newborn daughter Clara home, she's feeling overwhelmed by new motherhood, annoyed with her husband's busy work schedule, and overall uncertain about being a mother. One day, when Clara is a few days old, Megan finds a mysterious turquoise door in the wall. Rating: 4.5 stars Recommend? This will be one of those books that people either absolutely love or really, really dislike. It's definitely weird - reminded me both of The Need and of Bunny - and not for the faint of heart. When Megan brings her newborn daughter Clara home, she's feeling overwhelmed by new motherhood, annoyed with her husband's busy work schedule, and overall uncertain about being a mother. One day, when Clara is a few days old, Megan finds a mysterious turquoise door in the wall. She opens it to find Margaret Wise Brown, author of beloved children's book Goodnight Moon and the subject of Megan's abandoned dissertation. Megan becomes convinced that Margaret (who died in 1952) and her lover (who died in 1950) are haunting the house. This is an incredibly smart book. It is also at times funny, suspenseful, infuriating, and sad. I don't have children, but the author did a fantastic job of "showing not telling" Megan's journey with postpartum depression. There were times in the middle when the book lagged a bit, but this one was definitely a stay-up-all-night-to-finish book by the end. TW: postpartum depression, child abuse

  30. 5 out of 5

    Zak

    Extraordinary. Every impression, feeling, and reaction I experienced while reading Julia Fine's The Upstairs House is going to haunt me in the best way possible. It is my personal belief that the best books are those that expand the readers horizons either through instilling some sort of lesson or experience that adds to the reader's understanding of the world or perhaps how the reader relates to the world. This lesson can be something as simple as a fact that the reader previously didn't know o Extraordinary. Every impression, feeling, and reaction I experienced while reading Julia Fine's The Upstairs House is going to haunt me in the best way possible. It is my personal belief that the best books are those that expand the readers horizons either through instilling some sort of lesson or experience that adds to the reader's understanding of the world or perhaps how the reader relates to the world. This lesson can be something as simple as a fact that the reader previously didn't know or something more complex, an empathy or knowledge. The Upstairs House meets such a requirement or description and then absolutely transcends it to the point of setting a new standard. If asked I would say Julia Fine instills and thrills. Beyond that, reading The Upstairs House is to watch a virtuoso at work. Her language and imagery, the structure of her plot, is way more than just vibrant. She describes moments in ways that are startling in their originality and both gorgeous and full of passion (sometimes the darkest, seething passion and sometimes not). This is most definitely an enriching masterpiece that I will recommend as much as possible, but I will not lend anyone my copy because this book is so wonderful that I would fear I would never give it back.

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