I’m delighted to be part of the launch celebrations for The Upstairs Room, the debut novel by Kate Murray-Browne, even if I’m not sure I’m brave enough to read the book! I ahve a brilliant extract to share from The Upstairs Room today.
The Upstairs Room will be published by Picador, an imprint of Pan Macmillan, on 27th July 2017 and is available for purchase through the links here.
The Upstairs Room
Eleanor, Richard and their two young daughters recently stretched themselves to the limit to buy their dream home, a four-bedroom Victorian townhouse in East London. But the cracks are already starting to show. Eleanor is unnerved by the eerie atmosphere in the house and becomes convinced it is making her ill. Whilst Richard remains preoccupied with Zoe, their mercurial twenty-seven-year-old lodger, Eleanor becomes determined to unravel the mystery of the house’s previous owners – including Emily, whose name is written hundreds of times on the walls of the upstairs room.
An Extract from The Upstairs Room
They proceeded through the house. The basement, empty now, had been converted for a lodger – a bedroom, living room and a shower room under the stairs. It looked hasty and cheap, as though the shower might come away from the wall. ‘Can you imagine converting this into a kitchen/dining room?’ Michael asked. Richard could. ‘I don’t know if you guys like entertaining but imagine knocking all this through, dinner parties looking out onto the garden . . .’
They moved back upstairs. A greying bathtub. Heavy curtains. Everything – beds, armchairs, banisters – weighed down with blankets and quilts. Eleanor imagined touching them; they would be clammy. Four bedrooms. ‘So, the vendors are a family, a couple with a little girl, no onward chain. They want to move really quickly on this one, which I’m guessing is going to be good for you guys too. You’ve got kids, right? Two girls, lovely – a bedroom each for you and your little ladies and then you’ve got a spare room, or a study . . .’
They were on the top floor. Eleanor began to feel slightly peculiar here – it was almost airless, as if they were too far from the central nervous system of the house. There was only one room he hadn’t shown them. Michael stopped with his hand on the door and said, ‘OK, so you’re gonna need to use your imagination with this one.’ He stumbled; there seemed to be a little resistance from somewhere and then the door gave and swung open too fast.
Inside, the walls were covered in writing – a child’s writing. The name ‘EMILY’ appeared again and again in capitals, sometimes very small, sometimes huge, covering almost all of the white. There were frantic scribbles – large clouds of line – and faces: dwindling to pointy chins with tiny dash-like mouths and enormous eyes.
Despite the blaze of black ink on the walls, the rest of the room was curiously still. The bedspread – a cheerless shade of pink – was smooth as glass. A collection of toys, which struck Eleanor as vaguely old-fashioned, was arranged in a neat pile on the pillows. There was no other furniture, only a leather suitcase in the corner of the room.
Richard laughed uneasily; Michael was embarrassed. ‘Yeah, so this isn’t quite . . .’ he attempted. ‘You know what some kids are like.’
‘This isn’t normal though,’ Eleanor said. ‘Why didn’t someone stop her?’
‘Well, the vendors are a bit . . .’ He stretched his mouth out into a triangle. ‘But all you need is a coat of paint and that room’s as good as new.’
(I’m not sure I believe him! – Linda)
About Kate Murray-Browne
Kate Murray-Browne was born and lives in London. She worked in publishing for ten years, previously at Faber & Faber, before becoming a freelance editor. She is also a visual artist and has exhibited work in a number of different galleries. The Upstairs Room is her first novel.
You can find out more about Kate through her website.
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