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The History Of The Lambs And Thomsens As Depicted In The Prequel To ‘The Family Remains’

“The Family Remains” is about the characters from “The Family Upstairs” who have now grown up and are living a life hiding their true identities for fear of being found out. We have come across Henry, Lucy, Libby, and Phin, and though we know that they have had a traumatic childhood, the effect of which is clear, we do not know much other than the fact that Lucy was raped by David and that Henry killed Birdie and maybe his parents and David. We also know that the children were locked in their rooms and were not given much to eat. But how did it start? The Lambs had tons of money and lived in a huge mansion overlooking the Thames. So, Henry Sr. must have had a job that helped him earn so much money, and if he did, then how come he was so stupid to lose all of it to a conman so easily? The way these characters have narrated the past events, it seems clear that Birdie and David were up to no good right from the start, and if we can see through it and even Henry and Lucy, who were then children, can see through it, why can’t their parents? Let’s begin with the history of the lambs first.

Henry Sr. had inherited a lot of money from his father, Harry Lamb, who was from Blackpool and had made a lot of money from slot machines. He was quite old when Henry Sr. was born, and he practically waited for his father to die so that he could inherit his father’s money. He didn’t work a day in his life. He had seen the house and liked it so much that, on the day his father died, he bought it. He was scared that someone else might claim it soon if he didn’t. Then he decorated the house with a lot of things, like moose heads that were stuck on the wall, hunting swords, mahogany thrones, etc. He didn’t use or need any of these objects, but he just wanted to spend money. He didn’t know what else to do with the money other than to spend it. His wife, Martina, who was half Turkish and half German, was 12 years younger than him and “a rare beauty,” as per Henry Sr. She was into modeling before she met him, and after their marriage, she became a housewife, taking care of the children she gave birth to. Like her husband, she was spendthrift too and ran an office for a while where she would introduce ‘important fashion people to each other.’ But she soon gave up that work and became a housewife again. The Lambs had so much money and had such a big need to show it off that they had nothing comfortable to sit on in their house. Everything was leather, glass, wood, or some other metal. The Family had no other relatives but just a few friends whom they would invite now and then to dinners and parties to show off their wealth. Martina’s mother was alive and lived in Germany, and the children would go to spend their summers at her place.

All of this happened in the 1980s. Then Birdie showed up one fine morning. She said that her band wanted to shoot a music video in this house, and after shooting the video, one would expect her to leave, but she started staying there and brought her partner Justin. Henry Sr. didn’t protest on their face, but he wasn’t that pleased as well. It was Martina whom Birdie had talked to, and she, in turn, convinced her husband to let the couple stay for a while until they could find their own place. Justin was interested in growing herbs and plants, and soon he was growing some in the garden. He had his own books on these and had shown them to Henry.

Soon, Henry Sr. suffered a stroke, after which his speech became a bit affected, along with his body movements. The family doctor suggested that he go to a physiotherapist, but Birdie said that she knew a healer, and then David Thomsen and his Family appeared at 16 Cheyne Walk. The very first night, there began a power struggle between the two men in the house. Henry Sr., with his ill health, could no longer hold his previous authoritarian position as the head of the Family, and David, with all his charm and aura of making people around him feel small, took the reins. Henry, the child, could clearly see that their mother was attracted to David. In spite of having his wife, Sally, in the same house, David began a relationship with Birdie.

From Phin, Henry Jr. got to know that they had never had a house. Their father, David, makes a fool of the rich people and steals their money. He had tried to trick his own mother into writing all the property in his name but got kicked out of his house when his brother got to know about it. They had been in France for a while and had come back to England a few years ago. Soon, everything in the Lamb mansion was being decided by David and Birdie, and not so surprisingly, the Lambs started losing all their money. David had tricked Martina into believing that they had more money than was required and that they needed to get rid of all their riches by giving them to the poor.

Martina was so charmed by David that somehow she believed every word he said. She even told her husband and Henry Jr. that she needed David to stay happy because it was he who had shown her a new way of life. The Lamb children would go to reputed schools, but after the Thomsens came, Sally started home tutoring the Lamb children along with her own. Birdie was in charge of teaching the girls how to play the fiddle. After Sally got to know that David was cheating on her with Birdie, she moved out. David shifted into Birdie’s room, and soon they were in charge of everything in the house, starting from what to eat, what to do, what to wear, and everything else. They were not allowed to step outside the house or take a shower without their permission, and all the while, the adult lambs let these horrible things happen.

Soon, David announced that Martina was pregnant with his child because he and Birdie could not conceive. It became all the more clear to Henry Jr. that David wanted all the women in the house for himself. By that time, Justin had left the house, leaving his apothecary books behind for Henry. Henry was taking care of the herb garden too, and not being able to withstand all of this; he decided to feed his mother all the herbs that could possibly terminate her pregnancy. He knew it could be dangerous for his mother, but after all, he was a child. He thought getting rid of the baby would make David leave the house. If David had the baby with his mother, then they would all be tied to David forever. Not to mention the house, which might be passed on to David’s children now that he has been able to make Martina sign the will. Henry’s herbs worked, and Martina lost the child in the fifth month of her pregnancy.

Henry’s plan had worked, but not fully. The child died, and his mother got depressed, but David didn’t move out. That he wanted the house more than the money became all the more clear to Henry when he announced that Lucy was expecting his child next. Lucy’s child was born, and David and Birdie named her Serenity. But soon after, Lucy wouldn’t be allowed to even go near the baby, let alone touch it. After this, Henry could take no longer and realized that he needed to take matters into his own hands because if he didn’t, no one ever would, and David would soon kill all of them. So, he decided to fall back on his apothecary, and when David announced that he was throwing a party for Birdie’s birthday, he decided it would be the perfect day.

Henry didn’t want to kill anyone, and everything had been an accident. Initially, all the children had planned that Henry would drug the adults, and they would take the baby and run away from the house. They would inform the police, and everything would be sorted, but the concoction ended up killing all the adults except Birdie, who tried to snatch the baby away, but Henry hit her with the first thing he could find, which was an elephant’s tusk. After finding out that all the adults had died, Henry realized they needed a plan B and fabricated a crime scene, after which all of the kids managed to escape except the infant, whom they had left behind so that the police and social workers could find her and take care of her.

See more: ‘The Family Remains’ – Analyzing The Character Of Henry Lamb In Lisa Jewell’s Latest Read

Anantaa Ghosh
Anantaa Ghosh
Anantaa has completed her graduation and post-graduation in English literature. She works as a guest lecturer and is an avid and enthusiastic reader. She is deeply passionate about rivers and wants to pursue her research on water narratives.


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