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The Wife Upstairs: Summary and Ending Explained

the wife upstairs book ending explained

The Wife Upstairs is a thriller written by Rachel Hawkins in 2021, and it’s a modern adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre.

In this novel, Rachel Hawkins shares the story of Jane Bell, a young woman with a mysterious and troubled past. Jane decides to make a fresh start in Thornfield Estates, an affluent community.

Hawkins switches between different perspectives to build suspense and emphasize the shared experiences of Jane, Eddie, and Bea – all outsiders in their own ways. As Jane forms relationships with Eddie and Bea Rochester, she faces her past and discovers the repercussions of pursuing ambition without considering the potential consequences.

Summary | Ending Explained

The Wife Upstairs Summary

The story beings with six months having passed since Bea Rochester and Blanche Ingraham disappeared in Birmingham, Alabama. Jane Bell, a 23-year-old woman from Phoenix seeking a fresh start, meets Eddie Rochester while walking dogs in Thornfield Estates, the missing women’s upscale neighborhood. Jane and Eddie quickly connect.

As Jane and Eddie start dating, Jane discovers the mysterious circumstances surrounding Bea and Blanche’s disappearance. The women went missing after a boat ride at the Rochesters’ lake house and are presumed dead. Eager for stability and an escape from her roommate, John Rivers, Jane wants to solidify her relationship with Eddie.

Meanwhile, Bea Rochester is confined to a panic room on the third floor of her home, writing in her journal. Eddie has imprisoned her, and Bea accuses him of murdering her childhood friend Blanche.

Jane moves in with Eddie, befriends her Thornfield Estates neighbors, and learns about Bea and Blanche’s complicated relationship. John Rivers begins to blackmail Jane, revealing that someone from Phoenix is looking for her and asking about a woman named Helen Burns. Fearing exposure, Jane pays John and tries to manipulate Eddie into proposing. Eventually, Jane and Eddie get engaged.

While planning their wedding, Jane meets Tripp Ingraham, Blanche’s husband, who hints at Eddie’s involvement in his wife’s disappearance. Jane starts hearing strange thumping noises from the third floor of the house.

Bea, locked away and writing in her journal, suspects that Eddie and Blanche were having an affair. Eddie regularly visits Bea to bring her supplies. Bea reminisces about how she and Eddie met in Hawaii.

A detective named Laurent informs Eddie that Blanche’s body has been found with a skull fracture. Meanwhile, Jane continues to face harassment from John Rivers for money. She secretly pays him $2500 using Eddie’s money. Following John’s suggestion, Eddie and Jane go to the lake house for the weekend. Jane becomes suspicious when she finds Eddie searching for a key in the middle of the night, sensing he’s hiding something.

Curious about the relationship between Bea and Blanche, Jane invites Tripp to lunch. This leads to a confrontation with Eddie, during which he reveals knowledge of John’s blackmail and gives Jane a phone number from Phoenix. Two days later, they find out that the police have arrested Tripp for Blanche’s murder. Jane apologizes to Eddie for doubting him, and they reconcile.

In the locked room, Bea attempts to seduce Eddie to escape but fails. However, they end up having an intimate encounter. Bea reveals that she slept with Tripp as revenge for the suspected affair between Eddie and Blanche.

Jane and Eddie continue planning their wedding while Tripp awaits trial. When John Rivers tries to blackmail her again, Jane calls the Phoenix number, pretending to be Helen Burns. She adopted the name Jane Bell in memory of her foster sister who died due to her foster father’s neglect. Jane discloses that she didn’t intervene when her foster father had a heart attack as revenge. No longer afraid of being discovered, Jane confronts John and puts an end to the blackmail.

Bea recalls a past incident at a company party where she lied about her company. Her drunk mother publicly called her out, embarrassing her. Later, Bea pushed her mother down the stairs, leading to her death. In the present, Bea and Eddie have a secret relationship in a panic room.

Bea writes a letter to Jane, giving instructions on how to find her, and hides her journal in Eddie’s jacket pocket. In the journal, Bea talks about her friendship with Blanche and accusations of stealing designs.

Jane meets Tripp again, who warns her about Eddie. Jane, unconvinced, searches Eddie’s house and finds Bea’s journal. She unlocks the panic room, where Eddie is. Jane knocks Eddie unconscious and locks him inside. Eddie remembers following Tripp, Bea, and Blanche to a lake house, discovering Bea after she killed Blanche and framed Tripp. Eddie imprisoned Bea in the panic room to protect her.

Jane and Bea share wine. Bea insists on her innocence, blaming Eddie. Jane doesn’t believe Bea, suggesting Eddie’s love as the reason he didn’t turn her in. Bea admits killing Blanche to hide her past. Jane tries to call the police, and Eddie starts a fire in the panic room. Bea rushes to save him, but Jane runs outside. Bea and Eddie die in the fire, destroying their house.

Jane tries to start over. Eddie leaves Bea’s wealth and company shares to Jane. Jane, now wealthy, moves to a cabin in North Carolina, beginning a new life.

The Wife Upstairs Ending Explained

In the last part of the novel, Bea and Jane meet and discover they are more alike than they thought. They both notice how they can stay calm in chaotic situations. Jane has been trying hard to fit in with the people in Thornfield Estates, especially Bea. When Bea tells Jane that Eddie thought they were very different, Jane realizes she has always been similar to Bea.

If Bea gives Jane validation, Jane also helps Bea understand why Eddie didn’t harm her. Jane figures out that Eddie spared Bea because he loved her, which makes Bea want to save Eddie during a fire. This is a big change for Bea, who had shown no remorse for her past actions.

Despite being seen as overly ambitious, Bea’s strong connection with Eddie breaks her free from that cycle. The fire that eventually takes both Bea and Eddie’s lives symbolizes the intense passion they shared.

Jane’s instincts save her from the fire and help her uncover the truth about Blanche. Jane had always wanted a life like the people in Thornfield Estates, running away from her past and hiding her humble beginnings. However, it’s her childhood survival skills that prove crucial after meeting Bea. Jane quickly realizes that Bea isn’t being truthful during their conversation, and her instincts protect her from Bea’s influence.

The fire destroys Bea and Eddie’s home, which Jane had seen as a symbol of her aspirations. She believed the house protected her from her past, but it almost became her downfall as she got tangled in deceit, passion, and ambition.

By saving herself, Jane starts a new chapter, gaining clarity and freeing herself from distracting ambitions. Jane inherits Bea’s wealth, and this wealth allows her the freedom to leave Alabama, use her real name, and build a life without being held back by the past. She understands that what she truly longed for wasn’t Bea’s life but freedom.

Happy reading! ❤️