Please take a moment to review Hachette Book Group's updated Privacy Policy: read the updated policy here.

The Downstairs Girl

The Downstairs Girl

‘A triumph of storytelling. A bold portrait of this country’s past, brilliantly painted with wit, heartbreak, and unflinching honesty. Everyone needs to read this book’ Stephanie Garber, New York Times bestselling author of Caraval

Jo Kuan is leading a double life. By day, she works as a quiet lady’s maid, but by night, she’s the voice behind the most radical advice column in 1890s Atlanta.

Jo is used to living life on the margins – invisible except for the occasional looks of disdain – but she won’t let it hold her back. While her priority is making sure that she and her father, Old Gin, remain safe in their hideaway beneath a print shop, she still has ambition. And strong opinions of her own that she begins to share in a newspaper advice column under the pseudonym ‘Miss Sweetie’. Suddenly, all of Atlanta is talking about her ideas, although little do they know that the witty advice comes from a penniless Chinese girl.

As curiosity about Miss Sweetie mounts, Jo’s secret identity may not stay secret for much longer. And as she learns more of the hard truths about her identity and her country, she must find the courage to decide between being herself or staying invisible . . .

***

‘[A] thrilling historical novel’ Booklist

‘Clever, funny, and poignant, The Downstairs Girl is Stacey Lee at her best’ Evelyn Skye, New York Times bestselling author of The Crown’s Game

‘Prepare to fall headlong in love with The Downstairs Girl. I certainly did!’ Robin LaFevers, New York Times bestselling author of the His Fair Assassin trilogy

‘A jewel of a story. By shining a light on the lives of those whom history usually ignores, Stacey Lee gives us a marvellous gift: An entirely new and riveting look at our past’ Candace Fleming, award-winning author of The Family Romanov

‘Immersive, important, and thoroughly entertaining, The Downstairs Girl sparkles with all of Stacey Lee’s signature humor, charm, warmth, and wisdom’ Kelly Loy Gilbert, Morris Award Finalist for Conviction
Read More

Genre: Fiction & Related Items / Historical Fiction

On Sale: 13th August 2019

Price: £8.99

ISBN-13: 9780349423609

Reviews

Unflinching in its portrayals of racism yet ultimately hopeful and heartfelt, this narrative places voices frequently left out of historical fiction centre stage
School Library Journal
A triumph of storytelling. A bold portrait of this country's past, brilliantly painted with wit, heartbreak, and unflinching honesty. Everyone needs to read this book
Stephanie Garber, <i>New York Times</i> bestselling author of <i>Caraval</i>
A gorgeous tale that will steal your heart. This is not only a keeper, but a classic!
Robin LaFevers, <i>New York Times</i> bestselling author of the His Fair Assassin trilogy
A jewel of a story. By shining a light on the lives of those whom history usually ignores, Stacey Lee gives us a marvellous gift: An entirely new and riveting look at our past
Candace Fleming, award-winning author of <i>The Family Romanov</i>
Clever, funny, and poignant, The Downstairs Girl is Stacey Lee at her best
Evelyn Skye, <i>New York Times</i> bestselling author of <i>The Crown's Game</i>
Immersive, important, and thoroughly entertaining, The Downstairs Girl sparkles with all of Stacey Lee's signature humour, charm, warmth, and wisdom
Kelly Loy Gilbert, Morris Award Finalist for <i>Conviction</i>
The Downstairs Girl holds a mirror to our present issues while giving us a detailed and vibrant picture of life in the past . . . The challenges Jo faces ring true for the novel's historical setting, but they will also ring strong for Lee's contemporary readers. As a young person, Jo is resoundingly American-an observant, open-minded, forward-thinking new woman with a Chinese face and a Southern accent. Her engaging voice, along with her emerging self-reliance and maturity, drive the novel and make her a character we can easily relate to. Punctuating her narrative with Miss Sweetie's tart and pun-filled advice, Jo's witty and arresting turns of phrase and her positive outlook give buoyancy to her story even in its dire moments. As Jo tackles all injustices head-on, and tension rises, the book races to a soundly satisfying conclusion
The New York Times
In her latest work, Lee continues to demonstrate that Chinese people were present - and had a voice - in American history. She deftly weaves historical details with Jo's personal story of finding a voice and a place for herself in order to create a single, luminous work
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Lee has concocted another thrilling historical novel, blending stellar plotting and a dynamic cast of characters with well-researched details and sharp commentary on America's history of racism and prejudice. This spectacular, voice-driven novel raises powerful questions about how we understand the past, as well as the ways our current moment is still shaped by that understanding
Booklist (starred review)
Featuring historical signposts (streetcar segregation, suffragists on safety bicycles) and memorable, well-developed characters, this captivating novel explores intersectionality, conveys the effects of restrictions placed on women and people of colour, and celebrates the strengths and talents of marginalized people struggling to break society's barriers in any age
Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Jo's wit and humour shine through her narration both in the sage advice she hands out as Miss Sweetie and her casual observations . . . a compelling domestic drama with a winning heroine
BCCB (starred review)
Lee's profound writing tackles topics of politics and race with a main character who isn't afraid to speak her mind
Buzzfeed
History, mystery, social commentary, adventure - this book's got it all!
BookRiot
An eye-opening social commentary, that's written with warmth and humour, it's definitely worth a read
My Weekly
A fascinating story of life in the margins . . . The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee effortlessly blends historical fact and tightly-plotted fiction into a story that you'll absolutely devour in one day
Hypable
This has to be my favourite, hands down, Stacey Lee book ever
Utopia State of Mind
Moving, thought-provoking, and historical, Stacey Lee, quite like her protagonist, writes a compelling piece
The Young Folks
I almost want to dare readers to not be delighted by its newspaper office shenanigans, clandestine assignations in cemeteries, and bicycle-riding adventures, but there's honestly no point. The Downstairs Girl, for all its serious and timely content, is a jolly good time
NPR
This utterly original historical fiction by Stacey Lee is an absolute delight
Reading Rants
This book was fantastic. I loved everything about it, from the characters to the plot to the setting . . . I highly recommend that you check it out!
My Year of Reading Dangerously
a definite must-read . . . The Downstairs Girl is a story of race and gender in America that is not often told
Worn Pages and Ink
Once again, Stacey Lee shines light on an overlooked segment of America's past and reveals truths about its present . . . A masterful novel from an exceptional storyteller. Highly recommended
Historical Novel Society
Stacey Lee's most recent novel is a stunning work of historical fiction that explores often-overlooked pieces of America's past and had me gasping at every plot twist
Blossoms and Bullet Journals
Unflinching in its portrayals of racism yet ultimately hopeful and heartfelt, this narrative places voices frequently left out of historical fiction centre stage. Recommended for any collection
School Library Journal (starred review)
This vividly rendered historic novel will keep readers riveted as witty, observant Jo deals with the dangers of questioning power
The Washington Post