The Doll Factory (Paperback)Elizabeth Macneal (author)
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This darkly atmospheric debut from Elizabeth Macneal is a brooding examination of female subjugation wrapped in the cloak of a rattling good period yarn. In a Victorian London so richly evoked that you can practically taste the fog, the aspiring artist Iris Whittle finds herself caught between the affections of pre-Raphaelite artist Louis Frost and the altogether more unsavoury taxidermist Silas Reed. Alongside her two admirers Iris also has to contend with the festering resentment of her jealous sister and a society which seems determined to keep her in her place. As events move toward their end, repressed desire and obsessive love threaten to destroy everything that Iris holds dear.
Waterstones Fiction Book of the Month for March 2020
The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal is the intoxicating story of a young woman who aspires to be an artist, and the man whose obsession may destroy her world for ever.
London. 1850. The Great Exhibition is being erected in Hyde Park and among the crowd watching the spectacle two people meet. For Iris, an aspiring artist, it is the encounter of a moment - forgotten seconds later, but for Silas, a collector entranced by the strange and beautiful, that meeting marks a new beginning.
When Iris is asked to model for pre-Raphaelite artist Louis Frost, she agrees on the condition that he will also teach her to paint. Suddenly her world begins to expand, to become a place of art and love.
But Silas has only thought of one thing since their meeting, and his obsession is darkening...
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Number of pages: 384
Weight: 288 g
Dimensions: 197 x 130 x 27 mm
'…a remarkably strong debut; clever and readable with flashes of wonderful, descriptive prose.' - The Times
'The themes of this gripping novel include creativity, passion and the disempowerment of women.' - The Express
‘Genuinely Dickensian… add a keen exploration of the restrictions that were placed on women and the possessiveness of men, and you get a remarkable example of historical fiction.’ - The Sunday Times
'A sharp, scary, gorgeously evocative tale of love, art and obsession.' - Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl on the Train
'A stunningly confident first novel with a real sense of period and place... thoroughly engrossing.' - Ian Rankin
'This brilliant literary thriller gripped me from the opening page and didn't relinquish its hold until I'd read the final sentence. The Doll Factory conjures 1850s London in all its grime and glory, possibility and restriction in absorbing, immersive detail. Elizabeth Macneal has created that rare thing: a beautifully researched historical novel with a plot to stop your heart. If this is her first book, I can barely wait to see what she writes next.' - Hannah Kent, author of Burial Rites and The Good People
'The Doll Factory is brilliant, with a refreshingly original quality, beautifully orchestrated narrative, great characters and some fascinating background detail.' - Andrew Taylor, author of The Ashes of London and The American Boy
'An astonishingly good debut. The Doll Factory reminded me of The Crimson Petal and the White, Fingersmith and Vanity Fair but had a richness of tone that was uniquely its own. Macneal writes with utter mastery, creating a lushly intricate world peopled by living, breathing characters you can't help but fall in love with and a plot that rattles like a speeding carriage to its thrilling conclusion. I couldn't put it down. You won't be able to either.' - Elizabeth Day, author of The Party
'The Doll Factory is one of the best books I've read in ages - heartbreaking and evocative. Elizabeth Macneal draws a vivid picture of life in 1850s London, exploring the world of the pre-Raphaelites and examining the position of women through her unforgettable heroine. At the same time, Elizabeth creates a perfectly structured and page-turning story of love and passion; crime and obsession. A wonderful and intense novel. I loved it.' - Jenny Quintana, author of The Missing Girl
'With strong echoes of John Fowles' The Collector, The Doll Factory is at once a vivid depiction of a morally dubious world, and a page-turning psychological thriller, with a truly compelling villain.' - Essie Fox, author of The Somnambulist
'A stunning novel that twines together power, art, and obsession. At every turn expectations are confounded - it's a historical novel and yet feels incredibly relevant and timely. I loved its warmth, it's wry humour, and the way each small thread leads into an unbearably tense and chilling denouement that had me totally gripped.' - Sophie Mackintosh, author of The Water Cure
'I loved The Doll Factory from the very first page and couldn't do anything else until I'd read right to the end. An exquisite novel of obsession, delusion, resilience and love, Elizabeth Macneal really is a breathtaking new talent.' - AJ Pearce, author of Dear Mrs Bird
'A remarkably assured and beautifully written debut, filled with sinister delights and intriguing themes of imprisonment and objectification. A truly captivating read.' - E C Fremantle, author of The Poison Bed
'The Doll Factory is darkly brilliant - The Collector meets Possession with added female power.' - Anna Mazzola, author of The Unseeing and The Story Keeper
'The Doll Factory is a gripping, artfully written historical novel with a highly contemporary sensibility. The setting - 19th century London full of pomp, grime and menace - plays just one part in an immersive and intellectually satisfying narrative that interrogates gender politics, classism, relationships, artistic obsession and erotomania with a painterly eye and gleefully dark heart. Part love story, part gothic novel and leading up to a truly breathless conclusion, this book is destined to be one of the biggest titles of 2019, deservedly so.' - Sharlene Teo, author of Ponti
'The Doll Factory is engrossing and atmospheric. Fascinating real historical background (the Pre-Raphaelites) and super invented characters. I can practically see the TV version!' - Adele Geras, author of The Ballet Class
'The sort of book you want to read curled up by a fire while your fingers twitch to find out what happens next. But if no fires are available it is just as absorbing on tube carriages and park benches.' - Rowan Hisayo Buchanan, author of Harmless Like You
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