The psychological unraveling of a postpartum woman named Megan becomes intertwined with the ghostly appearance of children's book writer Margaret Wise Brown, whom Megan had been researching for her doctoral dissertation. 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.
In this gripping and stylistically impressive novel, Fine illustrates how the rational and the mythic, the tangible and intangible, intertwine to fully tell a woman’s story ... As a follow-up to Fine’s first novel, What Should Be Wild, a feminist fairy tale, The Upstairs House gives readers another gynocentric narrative with otherworldly elements ... The Upstairs House is constantly aware of sliding between reality and fiction, between the historical and the strange, and how that in-between movement can be both productive and destructive ... With style and imagination, Fine renders the world of women more believably than the writing in many strictly realistic novels. While eventually there are some direct solutions in this book, much remains unsettled, which feels accurate, frightening, and a bit magical.
... weird and wonderful ... Megan’s anxieties about motherhood and her dissertation combine to form a many-layered, deep exploration of what it means to be a mother, a daughter, and a woman. The story takes the reader to some strange places: moments of pure gothic terror mix with others that made me laugh out loud as I recognized truths about my own identity as a woman. Witty, dark, and unflinchingly honest, this is a gem of a novel that defies genre.
... Fine’s haunting second novel takes on early motherhood and reads like a modern-day The Yellow Wallpaper or The Turn of the Screw, exposing the vast gaps in our collective understanding about postpartum depression and psychosis ... Fine successfully brings to the surface much of the fraught anxieties and trauma of new motherhood that many moms who’ve survived it sometimes wish to forget ... fully immersive. As I read, I appreciated that I couldn’t predict where this well-crafted ghost story was going. Part of that uncertainty was a result of how poorly understood postpartum psychosis truly is, but it mostly came from the wonderful suspense pulsing throughout ... I held my breath page after page, eager to know what would happen. Would Megan keep her baby safe? Could she save herself? I won’t tell, and I won’t be able to let this story go anytime soon.