The author of Invisible Girl, Lisa Jewell, discusses why her latest novel is a publishing smash.
NOVELIST Lisa Jewell has a hypothesis as to why her suspenseful and twisting psychological thriller, Lockdown, has become a smash hit and continues to sell in droves.
“The Family Upstairs is fundamentally about a locked down house, where children are educated at the kitchen table, food is given to the door, and no one comes in or out,” Lisa, 52, explains. “However, unlike our own locked down dwellings, the danger is on the inside, not the outside, in this closed down house. I believe there is a peculiar reassurance for readers in that, a reminder that if their freedom is limited, they are at least safe.” The Family Upstairs was the bestselling paperback novel in the crime category in 2020, selling half a million copies in the UK and Ireland, and spending weeks in the top 10 fiction bestseller lists alongside her new book, Invisible Girl, which spent three weeks at number one.
Following her own emotionally violent first marriage, Lisa – a former secretary whose 17 novels have sold over five million copies since her 1999 debut Ralph’s Party – is painfully aware of houses where danger lurks behind closed doors.
“I felt this cold fear rush through me when the first lockdown was announced,” she says.
“Even though I am now happily remarried to a lovely man, it brought back those sentiments of not being able to see the people you care about, especially your family.”
There are unnerving parallels between lockdown and the oppressive control Lisa experienced throughout her five-year first marriage, according to Lisa.
“A few of years ago, the government released a visual depicting 20 different indications of domestic abuse. “How near we are to a lockdown chart is terrifying,” she says.
“Everything is there: you’re not permitted to go to work, see your friends, or do whatever you want.
Even the ‘gas-lighting’ is present – that crippling feeling that the goalposts are always shifting and that you are being deceived.”
Even though she admits she spends hours scrolling through the feeds on her phone while not working or overseeing her 13-year-old daughters, she believes reading is an excellent way to escape the constraints. “Brinkwire News in Condensed Form.”