The Doll Factory
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The Doll Factory

3.77 (8,126 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

A Sunday Times Bestseller, BBC Radio 2 Book Club Pick and BBC Radio 4 Book at Bedtime, The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal is the intoxicating story of one woman's dreams of freedom in Victorian England and the man whose obsession threatens to destroy them forever . . .

'A sharp, scary, gorgeously evocative tale of love, art and obsession' - Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl on the Train

London. 1850. On a crowded street, the dollmaker Iris Whittle meets the artist Louis Frost. Louis is a painter who yearns to have his work displayed in the Royal Academy, and he is desperate for Iris to be his model. Iris agrees, on the condition that he teaches her to paint.

Dreaming of freedom, Iris throws herself into a new life of art and love, unaware that she has caught the eye of a second man. Silas Reed is a curiosity collector, enchanted by the strange and beautiful. After seeing Iris at the site of the Great Exhibition he finds he cannot forget her.

As Iris's world expands, Silas's obsession grows. And it is only a matter of time before they meet again . . .

'A dark delight and fans of The Miniaturist and The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock will love it' - Red
The Doll Factory will be made into a major TV series.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 384 pages
  • 130 x 197 x 27mm | 288g
  • PICADOR
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Main Market Ed.
  • 1529002435
  • 9781529002430
  • 3,040

Review Text

A remarkable example of historical fiction . . . full of life, colour and intelligence Sunday Times
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Review quote

Emotionally and intellectually engaging, Elizabeth Macneal's debut is a stunner . . . both a page-turning thriller and a thoughtful, moving exploration of what it meant to be a woman and an artist in the 19th century . . . perfectly paced and richly atmospheric . . . deeply moving . . . I literally couldn't put it down for the final breathtakingly tense 70 pages . . . utterly gripping * Irish Times * Gripping -- India Knight, Sunday Times Memorable * Herald * Macneal has a magpie's eye for whatever is bright and glittering, and she writes vividly * Scotsman * The sort of book you want to read curled up by a fire while your fingers twitch to find out what happens next -- Rowan Hisayo Buchanan, author of Harmless Like You In its evocation of the seething energy of 1850s London, its immersion in the detail of the 19th-century city's everyday life and in its fascination with the macabre and the eccentric, Elizabeth Macneal's debut novel does feel 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 . . . In Macneal's novel, Iris is condemned to be imprisoned by men's ideas of her . . . a story full of life, colour and intelligence * Sunday Times * A sharp, scary, gorgeously evocative tale of love, art and obsession -- Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl on the Train Engrossing and atmospheric . . . I can practically see the TV version! -- Adele Geras, author of The Ballet Class Darkly brilliant - The Collector meets Possession with added female power -- Anna Mazzola, author of The Unseeing and The Story Keeper Gripping, artfully written . . . 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 -- Sharlene Teo, author of Ponti 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] gripping historical thriller . . . Macneal paints a masterpiece with her vivid descriptions, and the conclusion will have you racing to the end -- Book of the Week * Woman's Weekly * A brilliant literary thriller that you won't want to put down * Surrey Life * This dark, enchanting tale is beautifully written. We couldn't put it down * Take a Break * Remarkably assured and beautifully written . . . truly captivating -- E C Fremantle, author of The Poison Bed One of the best books I've read in ages - heartbreaking and evocative . . . a perfectly structured and page-turning story of love and passion; crime and obsession . . . wonderful -- Jenny Quintana, author of The Missing Girl Pretty much everything you could want from a book set in Victorian London . . . terrific storytelling . . . Ever since the success of The Essex Serpent, there's been no shortage of good modern gothic novels. The Doll Factory might just be the best yet -- James Walton * Reader's Digest * Exquisite . . . authentic and suspenseful * Woman & Home * Exquisitely executed, well-researched and richly evocative . . . a fast-paced, inventive ride through the dirt and squalor of Victorian London * Mail on Sunday * Elegantly plotted . . . compelling and chilling * The i * Stunning . . . with an unbearably tense and chilling denouement that had me totally gripped -- Sophie Mackintosh, Man Booker Prize longlisted author of The Water Cure The summer's hottest author . . . at once a love story and a thriller . . . Iris is a fierce creation. She chafes against the Victorian constraints on her freedom, carves out her own space in the male art world * Sunday Times * Brilliant . . . refreshingly original . . . beautifully orchestrated . . . fascinating -- Andrew Taylor, No. 1 Sunday Times bestselling author of The Ashes of London and The American Boy This brilliant literary thriller gripped me from the opening page . . . a beautifully researched historical novel with a plot to stop your heart -- Hannah Kent, author of Burial Rites and The Good People Vividly rendered . . . captivating . . . engrossing * Evening Standard * Magnificent . . . features an extraordinary, unforgettable cast of characters . . . you can't help but be entranced by this uniquely evocative and arresting story . . . the tension ramps up to a breathtaking climax . . . if you love books like The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock, Tulip Fever and Perfume then add The Doll Factory to your reading list * Daily Express * Astonishingly good . . . 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 I loved The Doll Factory from the very first page . . . an exquisite novel of obsession, delusion, resilience and love . . . breathtaking -- AJ Pearce, author of Dear Mrs Bird A deliciously gothic concoction that abounds with energy and imagination, conjuring up 1850s London life in all its Dickensian glory. Macneal marries art, obsession and possession in a plot that gains momentum and leaves the reader breathless * Daily Mail * This is a dark delight and fans of The Miniaturist and The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock will love it * Red Magazine * Astounding . . . I recommend it wholeheartedly -- Jo Whiley, BBC Radio 2 Book Club Macneal is excellent on the tension between idealised women and the reality . . . The Doll Factory is a remarkably strong debut; clever and readable with flashes of wonderful, descriptive prose -- Book of the Month * The Times * Fantastic - vivid, poignant, colourful, and elegantly horrifying -- Bridget Collins, author of The Binding A must read . . . Elizabeth Macneal's compelling debut is a darkly brilliant tale of Gothic suspense * Daily Mail * Stunningly confident . . . thoroughly engrossing -- Ian Rankin A remarkable example of historical fiction . . . full of life, colour and intelligence * Sunday Times *
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About Elizabeth Macneal

Elizabeth Macneal was born in Edinburgh and now lives in East London. She is a writer and potter and works from a small studio at the bottom of her garden. She read English Literature at Oxford University, before working in the City for several years. In 2017, she completed the Creative Writing MA at UEA where she was awarded the Malcolm Bradbury scholarship. The Doll Factory, Elizabeth's debut novel, won the Caledonia Novel Award 2018.
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Rating details

8,126 ratings
3.77 out of 5 stars
5 30% (2,456)
4 35% (2,826)
3 22% (1,816)
2 7% (587)
1 5% (441)
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