- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: John Murray (28 Mar. 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1848546505
- ISBN-13: 978-1848546509
- Product Dimensions: 13 x 2 x 19.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (74 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 302,421 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Girl on the Stairs: A Masterful Psychological Thriller Paperback – 28 Mar 2013
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Louise Welsh's taut new novel at times feels like a potent cross between The Yellow Wallpaper and Rear Window . . . Welsh expertly conveys the escalation of Jane's suspicions to something approaching obsession (Observer)
'An impressive psychological chiller' (Sunday Telegraph)
'Sharply rendered . . . The reader's anxiety is heightened by a myriad of small tensions . . . Welsh keeps the reader turning to pursue the multiple stories threading through the pages . . . The writing of crime fiction is, after all, a sort of conjuring trick played on the reader, a welcome deception. Welsh has developed flashing fingers with cards, rabbits and hats' (Independent)
Builds up atmosphere admirably (Sunday Times)
Brilliantly atmospheric, the tension builds until you are chilled to the core (Good Housekeeping)
A taut narrative that plays with our sense of what's real. Brilliant (Red)
'A stylish and violent Berlin-set thriller' (Guardian)
'Powerful, impressive and as black as sin' (The Spectator)
'An outstanding work of psychological suspense that will thrill Welsh's existing fans and earn her many more' (Daily Record)
'A portrait of a city haunted by its past, with nods to Don't Look Now and Charlotte Perkins Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper, it's a profoundly creepy read' (Guardian Books of the Year 2012)
'The Girl on the Stairs feels like a ghost story. Taking place in a haunted city, the book's knowing evocation of Don't Look Now, Du Maurier's Venice-set story, is sharpened by the fact that this mother is not grieving the loss of a child but anticipating a birth. Yet what Welsh knows, and brings to a bloody conclusion, is that no supernatural manifestation of our darkest hours is any match for what real human beings can do to each other' (Guardian)
Welsh skilfully exposes Jane's growing obsession in a tale that becomes more compelling with every shocking twist (Psychologies)
A highly effective mystery, told by the kind of unreliable narrator able to rival the very best at keeping you guessing (Scotsman)
'We've come to expect two things from Welsh: a brilliant sense of location and knuckle-whitening suspense . . . Superbly entertaining' (Saga)
'Both chilling and disturbing insights into the female psyche' (Scotsman)
'Wonderfully atmospheric' (List)
A masterclass in sustained tension and hold-your-breath suspense (Bookseller)
'Edgy, tense and a real page-turner' (Woman)
'A fast-paced read...this is definately a must read for fans of mystery or psychology' (Ialwaysbelievedinfutures.blogspot)
'This is a fantastic, dark, edgy and edgy of your seat thriller which will not disappoint fans of Louise Welsh but will also be perfect for fans of Rosamund Lupton and Julia Crouch. Be prepared to loose sleep' (lisabooks.blogspot.co.uk)
'The uncertainties and ambiguities kept me guessing to the end . . . The Girl on the Stairs is a dark, psychological thriller, full of atmosphere and claustrophobic tension. I really enjoyed it' (booksplease.org)
'A clever Rear Window type thriller . . . You won't be able to put this book down until the very end when there is a surprising twist. I was left with an uncomfortable feeling at the end and am still thinking about this book days after I finished it' (novelfriends.com)
'A dark haunting novel. The story builds and as the tension incrases I enjoyed it more and more, and felt it got better and better until I was gripped . . . It's a fairly short novel, written in spare prose with evocative descriptive passages and effective dialogue that always adds to the plot progression' (thelittlereaderlibrary.blogspot.co.uk)
'The Girl on the Stairs is a gritty, psychological thriller with plenty of suspense, tension and mystery. The twists and turns will have you believing Jane one minute and thinking she's mad the next. A definite page-turner and an excellent read' (NotesofLife.co.uk)
Skilfully paced and heavily atmospheric' (Sunday Telegraph)
Utterly absorbing (Evening Herald (Dublin))
A fantastically atmospheric, sexually charged novel by the acclaimed author of The Cutting Room.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
I liked the setting of Berlin with its own ghosts, and the ruined building behind the flats they live in, looming and casting shadows over their place:
'...any sound in the courtyard caught her attention and when everything was silent there was the shadow of the derelict building darkening the room. Even when she looked away she could feel the backhouse's presence, brooding at the corner of her eye.'
There is the graveyard nearby. It all creates or contributes to the unsettling, uncertain mood of the book. The atmosphere is dark, confined, brooding, always the hint of someone lurking, flashes of movement, silhouettes; this creates such tension.
Jane is a compelling and complex lead character. She is persistent and won't be dissuaded from what she thinks is the truth. She doesn't always do what you think she ought to, or what you might expect, which makes for interesting fiction. Jane gets very involved with pursuing her train of thought. She clearly believes in what she thinks has happened, but is she seeing things clearly, or imagining things that aren't really there, or haven't really happened? She seems to exist in a state of paranoia, both about what is going on around her, and at times about her relationship too.Read more ›
There is an unfolding sense of isolation as Jane finds herself alone for long hours. She has no friends in the city and her German is far from fluent. But soon the isolation becomes more threatening. She is convinced dark things are happening but rather than ignore them she feels a responsibility to a vulnerable young neighbour. She is conflicted with questions. Is young Anna being abused? Is there a body hidden nearby? Has someone entered her flat while she was sleeping? Or are these ideas simply the paranoia of a pregnant woman suffering from hormonal moods swings?
The tension is kept up right from the first few pages and we wonder if this will be a conventional thriller or a creepy ghost story. The ambivalence and the uncertainties remain right to the end. We know that Jane is sincere - but we don't know if she is delusional.....
Very sparely written - hardly a superfluous sentence. Another great read from Louise Welsh.
Jane Logan has moved to Berlin with her partner Petra. She's also pregnant with their first child. When Petra is called away for work, Jane finds herself alone in their new apartment, and alone in an unfamiliar city. She meets Anna, the young daughter of her neighbour, polite doctor Alban Mann. Anna seems to have a different bruise each time Jane sees her, and she becomes convinced the girl is being abused by her father.
Jane's concern for Anna grows alongside her increasing concern for her unborn child (a relationship that Welsh takes time to explore movingly). She vows to help Anna, but is surrounded by strangers and in a place she does not yet understand. As Jane's frustration and paranoia grow, we become concerned not only for her, but for those around her, as it becomes clear she is in danger of doing more harm than good.
Welsh builds tension expertly, and Jane's increasing obsession is believably-paced and impressively free of clichés. This is a well-written and powerful page-turner.
The book has the feeling of being set up as a horror novel, the house is in the old Jewish quarter and history is everywhere Jane looks. This is where the book is at its strongest, Welsh builds a sense of dread that is palpable throughout the first third of the novel. The apartment opposite is creepy, lights and shadows of people moving in the broken windows. The lights cut out in the hallway of their home, the building creaks.
Jane is introduced to their neighbour, a doctor and his tearaway daughter, and soon becomes embroiled in their arguments, trying to protect the girl against her seemingly overbearing and aggressive father. The elderly couple at the foot of the stairs and the nervous priest don't help to calm her nerves. Something is inevitably not as it seems and Jane is determined to solve the mystery of the girl, father and missing mother.
This is a short book and much of the novel is spent building this sense of dread, seeming to rush to a climax, which to mean seemed far too neat and contrived. Welsh gives us a tiny cast of characters and this lends the book a claustrophobic feeling, which towards the end begins to feel constrictive.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Ghosts real and imagined haunt this delightfully dark and unsettling tale of a pregnant Glaswegian girl who moves into a new flat with her girlfriend in Berlin. Read morePublished 1 month ago by keen reader
Another great story from Louise Welsh. Gripping from start to finish.Published 12 months ago by Simon
I love psychological thrillers but when it hit a descriptive section of the two women's sex life I lost interest. Wish I'd been warned about it because I wouldn't have bought it. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Marijke
A novel full of unappealing characters, not one redeeming personality. Reads like an experiment, trying out a genre. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Queen Mab
A very poor piece of writing, drawing very obviously on many Gothic elements. The story line is poor, the characters are shallow, and the ending predictable. What a waste of time.Published 23 months ago by Joyce Hollows