Review: The Wife in the Attic by Rose Lerner

The Wife in the Attic is the Jane Eyre retelling I’ve always wanted. It blew me out of the water over and over again until all I could do was keep listening.

This daring Gothic thriller reinvents one of literature’s most twisted love triangles. Tensely romantic and deliciously suspenseful, The Wife in the Attic is perfect for fans of Jane EyreRebecca, and Portrait of a Lady on Fire.

The Wife in the Attic CoverGoldengrove’s towers and twisted chimneys rose at the very edge of the peaceful Weald, a stone’s throw from the poisonous marshes and merciless waters of Rye Bay. Young Tabby Palethorp had been running wild there, ever since her mother grew too ill to leave her room.

I was the perfect choice to give Tabby a good English education: thoroughly respectable and far too plain to tempt her lonely father, Sir Kit, to indiscretion.

I knew better than to trust my new employer with the truth about my past. But knowing better couldn’t stop me from yearning for impossible things: to be Tabby’s mother, Sir Kit’s companion, Goldengrove’s new mistress.

All that belonged to poor Lady Palethorp. Most of all, I burned to finally catch a glimpse of her.

Surely she could tell me who cut the strings on my guitar, why all the doors inside the house were locked after dark, and whose footsteps I heard in the night….

With devious sophistication, Rose Lerner weaves a haunting tale full of secrets and sharp edges. Will the governess’ loyalties ultimately lie with the master of the house – or with the wife in the attic? Goodreads

I received a free Audible code from the author in exchange for an honest review.

The Wife in the Attic needs a lot of content warnings for antisemitism, murder by fire, state sanctioned murder via fire, pressing, hanging and strangulation, torture, discussion of suicide, suicidal ideations, imprisonment by spouse, involuntary drug usage, nd more.

This was my first Lerner book, but it certainly won’t be my last. The writing in this was just absolutely beautiful, playing off of Jane Eyre in ways I hadn’t expected but loved.

This retelling plays with the original in a lot of ways. It removed the school setting entirely as well as the “marry your cousin and run away to Africa to be a missionary” thing, replacing those stories with Lively St. Lemeston and Lady Tassle. I really loved these changes and look forward to

It also changes the racial issues with the original by changing the Filipino “mad” wife into a Portuguese Jew like our main character. As a non-Jewish person, I felt that this was beautifully woven into the story.

One thing that remained from the original is that all of the characters were just on the verge of unlikeable except for Sir Kit. Even though you know that he’s an absolute monster, you doubt that as Deborah does. It was masterfully done.

The Wife in the Attic is currently only available through Audible, so you can still use our affiliate link! Typically, I’ve seen Audible Originals come out in e-book form about 6 months later, so hopefully it’ll be available in another way for me to buy!


Title: The Wife in the Attic

Series: Rye Bay #1

Author: Rose Lerner

Publisher: Audible Originals

Length: 16 hours and 18 minutes

Release Date: April 17, 2018

Rating: Highly Recommended

Genre: Historical Fiction

Representation: White passing Portuguese Jewish queer female main character, white passing Portuguese Jewish queer female love interest

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