Short Review #15: The Party Upstairs by Lee Conell (2020)

Rating: 3 out of 5⭐️
Title: The Party Upstairs: A Novel
Author: Lee Conell
Published: 2020 (Penguin Press, New York)
Pages: 309 (Hardcover)
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Literary Fiction, Adult
*Disclaimer: Recommended for 18+, contains strong situational content, sex and harassment

My borrowed copy of The Party Upstairs by one of my windows, by stairs

Hello everyone! I’m typing this as it rains on a dark and stormy summer night here in Arizona. There isn’t a lot of rain this time of year so that means it’s monsoon season! As you can probably tell, I’m excited. This weather was much needed during this tough week. And reading the book I’m about to talk about provided a much needed break too. This week I read The Party Upstairs by Lee Conell.

Their relationship had been like one long mutual unpaid internship. They had each felt slightly exploited, but they’d also each hoped the experience would help them achieve something greater in the future” – Lee Conell, The Party Upstairs

I heard a lot of mixed reviews about this book. But when I read the synopsis, it sounded right up my alley. The novel centers around young liberal arts college graduate, Ruby, and her hard-working apartment building super father, Martin. Ruby grew up as the super’s daughter in a fancy Upper West Side apartment building living among some of New York’s wealth, but their class differences couldn’t be further apart even living among them. Now as an adult, Ruby moves back home with her parents in her childhood basement home after breaking up with her boyfriend, and having no job. The novel takes place over the course of a certain day where Ruby’s privileged childhood best friend, Caroline, throws a party in her childhood penthouse home in her building, and a series of events lead to a tense climax.

She had instead changed into an oversize sweater and long spandex skirt with plaid print… She looked like how Ruby must have looked in her interview outfit, except Caroline was wearing this outfit because she had a choice. She was demonstrating to the world all the ways she was empowered in her rejection of the feminine norm. Or something” – Lee Conell, The Party Upstairs

I really enjoyed this one. The main relationship of the novel between father and daughter was introspective and gripping. The novel’s repeated commentary on class and privilege was also fascinating. It was definitely a little slow in the beginning, but by the end, I was glued to the story from the tension. The narrative throughout the course of a day perfectly built up the surrealness and suspense felt between the reader and characters. The way Ruby and Martin interact with the other characters in their own points of view were meaningfully conducted, and attributed to the personality of the novel. Why should you read this novel? If you enjoy literary fiction taking place in New York surrounding class privilege commentary and tense situations, this is the book for you.

I give this a 3 out of 5!


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