Title: The Doll Factory
Author: Elizabeth Macneal
Genre: Gothic Historical Fiction
My Rating: 5
Synopsis from Goodreads:
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 . . .
Welcome to my review of The Doll Factory by Elizabeth MacNeal. I was able to read this book because I attended an event where they gave a free copy of it. I had seen it in bookshops before, and the synopsis sounded intriguing.
I read this book about a month and a half ago, and I am still thinking about it. What a great surprise it was! I am a lover of Victorian Literature and am fascinated by the time period, so when I see a novel that is well researched it is such a pleasure for me. It was the case with this book.
I had never read a book about the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, and I loved the way Macneal was able to describe the various artists smoothly including minor details that someone who is not familiar with the time-period might not pick up on (like one of the model’s anorexia).
The descriptions of the Great Exhibition were just exquisite. As I read them it felt like I was actually there. I could imagine the sunshine filtering through the glass and could imagine seeing all the objects on display. The same goes for the description of paintings: they were so vivid that I could clearly see them in my mind.
All the characters were so well flashed out. Silas repulsed me, but I still felt pity for him. The relationship between the two sisters was so well described, and realistic. Each character felt real and their motives were always logical, even though sometimes they were horrific.
And finally the atmosphere was just immensely compelling. Macneal was able to masterly describe the contrast between the bright and luxurious streets of London and the most abased parts of it too. The luxury was sweet and decadent, whereas the run down parts were disgusting and repulsive. I loved her writing style, and will read anything she publishes! Her way with words is magical, for better or worse.
I definitely recommend this book to fans of Horror and Gothic fiction. If you have read this please let me know what you thought, I would love to discuss it in the comments!
Until next time,