Title: The Doll Factory
Author: Elizabeth Macneal
Publisher: Picador Books
The Doll Factory is a sweeping tale of curiosity, love, and possession set among all the sordidness and soaring ambition of 1850s London.
The greatest spectacle London has ever seen is being erected in Hyde Park and, among the crowd watching, two people meet. For Iris, an aspiring artist of unique beauty, it is the encounter of a moment—forgotten seconds later—but for Silas, a curiosity collector enchanted by the strange and beautiful, the 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, and suddenly her world expands beyond anything she ever dreamed of. But she has no idea that evil stalks her.
Silas, it seems, has thought of only one thing since that chance meeting, and his obsession is darkening by the day…
I don’t know what it is about novels set during the Victorian era that makes me like them so much. It could be that the world was changing so rapidly that it is interesting to imagine how people dealt with those changes or it could be that as a 21st century audience we take things for granted that still had that creepy quality during this period.
Creepiness is definitely what you get from the story in The Doll Factory. It is a story centred around Iris, the once less attractive twin who end up being considered a great beauty by rogue artists. Whilst she chooses to change her life – angering her family and going against what was expected and socially accepted of working class women – she encounters difficulties that she couldn’t even begin to imagine…including the unreciprocated feelings of strange taxidermist, Silas.
I really enjoyed The Doll Factory. I was so intrigued by the story that I felt myself desperate to read on. It is definitely an ‘Oh, just one more chapter…’ book. The world which Macneal creates is so visual and she manages to create a story that is the perfect blend of character and story driven. The backdrop of industrial change and great opportunity is evocative and really enables you to live this story. I have read quite a few books set during this era but have to admit that The Doll Factory is forcing its way to the top of my favourites list.
For more information regarding Elizabeth Macneal (@esmacneal) please visit www.elizabethmacneal.com.
For more information regarding Picador Books (@picadorbooks) please visit their Twitter page.