Emily Witt writes:
The narrator of The Woman Upstairs is Nora Eldridge, and from the start she describes herself as something of a non-entity. ‘I’m neither fat nor thin, tall nor short, blonde nor brunette, neither pretty nor plain.’ She’s 42 and ‘neither married nor divorced, but single. What they used to call a spinster, but don’t anymore, because it implies that you’re dried up and none of us wants to be that.’ Spinsters, in the old novels, are sexless, meddlesome and prissy. These days, what they used to call a spinster is a fearsome spectre, someone to avoid, like Bridget Jones’s single woman found half-eaten by her Alsatian.