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
Sunday Times Best Paperback of 2020 Pick
The Doll Factory
will be made into a major TV series. Gothically good -- Eithne Farry * Daily Mirror * 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 s
The Doll Factory