The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal

The Doll Factory

'A sharp, scary, gorgeously evocative tale of love, art and obsession' Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl on the TrainThe Doll Factory, the debut novel by Elizabeth Macneal, is an intoxicating story of art, obsession and possession.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...

Details The Doll Factory

TitleThe Doll Factory
Release DateMay 2nd, 2019
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Fiction, Mystery

Reviews The Doll Factory

  • Maureen
    Richly evocative of Victorian London, ‘The Doll Factory’ revolves around Iris, who together with her sister Rose, works for the cruel, laudanum addicted Mrs Salter. Iris dreams of being an artist, expressing herself on canvas, giving vent to her talents, rather than spending long hours of monotony painting dolls faces. When she meets pre- Raphaelite artist Louis Frost, and he asks her to model for him, she agrees, on condition that he teaches...
  • Paromjit
    This is an unforgettable piece of chilling and gothic historical fiction, the debut from Elizabeth Macneal, set in the Victorian era. She writes an atmospheric and beautifully constructed story of art, ambition, a deranged obsession, love and horror, amidst the poverty, class divisions and entrenched inequalities, squalor, culture, scientific developments, and the prevalent social norms and attitudes of the time, such as the way women were treate...
  • Ova - Excuse My Reading
    Review soon
  • Nadia
    3.5 starsSet in Victorian London in 1850, Elizabeth MacNeal's debut novel, the Doll Factory, depicts a story of Iris, who despite her parents disapproval decides to follow her dream of becoming an artist. She meets Luis who is a painter from Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and he is completely smitten by her. Luis wants to paint Iris and also agrees to give her painting lessons. However, Luis is not the only one who has their eyes on Iris. Iris and Si...
  • Pauline
    The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal is the story of Iris who works in the Doll Factory and dreams of being an artist. She becomes a model for the artist Louis Frost and she embraces the world of art.Iris meets Silas who becomes obsessed with her and the story becomes very dark and sometimes scary.I would like to thank NetGalley and Pan Macmillan for my e-copy in exchange for an honest review.
  • Emma
    This was a great book. The descriptions and historical details were realistic and some were new to me. I’ve read quite a lot of Victorian historical fiction, so new ways of thinking about this era are always welcome: a boy saving for a full set of dentures; the fascination with natural history and taxidermy as the scientific discoveries of anatomy multiplied .The symbol of the Great Exhibition as the visible part of an iceberg, while the gritty...
  • Blair
    I don't read an awful lot of historical fiction unless it has a particular hook that appeals to my tastes (usually horror), and this reminded me why – which, I hasten to add, is not supposed to sound as harsh as it does. This is a good story, just not a book for me. The Doll Factory is a well-written and atmospheric take on Victorian London, most likely to appeal to fans of recent popular historical novels such as The Miniaturist, in which shop...
  • Eric Anderson
    When I can't sleep at night I have a habit of watching nature documentaries. At one point I found a programme that focuses on marsupials and there were two episodes on wombats. After discovering more about these rodent-like burrowers I was absolutely smitten and have become obsessed with watching videos about them ever since. It turns out I'm not alone as the Pre-Raphaelite artists of mid-nineteenth century London were also keen on these curious ...
  • Julie Parks
    THE DOLL FACTORY was captivating and authentic. Set in historic London of 1850, it is both dark and beautiful.The story can become scary at times but overall it's a joyride for your imagination.Thank you NetGalley for the chance to read this in exchange for my honest review.
  • Lisa
    Wow! What a powerhouse of a debut from Elizabeth Macneal! There is a lot of positive buzz currently surrounding this and I was expecting good things, but what I found within its pages was even better than I had hoped for. It's a delicious, absorbing, gritty historical fiction novel that fans of Fingersmith and The Collector will love. It's hardly surprising that fourteen publishers battled it out to win the rights to its publication, with Picador...
  • Liz Barnsley
    The Doll Factory was an immersive, authentic read with an undertone of darkness and a great Historical setting that you just sink into.It is a pacy read that is part historical drama and part thriller – it has a slow burn start that immediately engages you with this small group of humanity all living around the build up to the Great Exhibition. It is a novel about art and creativity, but also a story of love and obsession, of wanting to escape ...
  • michelle
    Set in London in 1850, sisters Rose and Iris work for Mrs Salter at the Doll factory painting the faces and hands of porcelain dolls. But Iris dreams of becoming an artist. One day she meets Louis Frost. Who she agrees to become a model for him, in return for Louis to teach her how to paint. She leaves her sister behind, and moves into the room whilst modelling. Her sister Rose disapproves so much, that they end up not talking. As they spend so m...
  • Xueting
    Trigger warning: violence and animal crueltyGripping and original. Macneal uses the gothic and grim atmosphere of Victorian London to examine the objectification of women as encouraged by the romantic art (mostly made by men) of that time. The imprisonment and saving of helpless women by men have become a common theme in paintings, even among the characters who are pushing for a new movement in art. What happens when someone wants to recreate tha...
  • SueKich
    The ruptured mind.London 1850: Iris and her disfigured twin sister Rose are trapped working brutish hours for the nasty owner of a doll shop. “Seed pearls, ruched sleeves, passementerie trimmings, tiny velvet buttons as small as mouse noses.” Iris yearns to be an artist. When she meets Louis Frost, one of the pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, she is persuaded to model for him on the condition that he teaches her to paint.Meanwhile, the weirdly sini...
  • Marie (UK)
    Overall I think there will be many people who buy and thoroughly enjoy this book. It is a bit slow moving at the beginning but Macneal builds a strong narrative. The times are captured well but this is less an historical fiction than a mystery / thriller/ horror . Her characterisation is excellent - particularly of Silas and Albie. However, I have to say, it verged too far towards horror for me. It was very dark at times and I really didn't enjoy...
  • Aimee Walker Editorial
    Packed full of things I love to read about...Victorians, The Great Exhibition, Pre Raphaelite Brothers, the history of art and criticism –along with some romance and a bit of creepy gothic horror – what’s not to like?! Highly recommend! Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for this ecopy in exchange for an honest review.
  • Beadyjan
    Oh yes!! this will surely be a huge success. Two sisters Iris and Rose work together making dolls. It is the mid 19th century and whilst nearby the great exhibition is being planned, their days are long and repetitive, working for a hard taskmistress the girls dream of escaping to a more congenial life, Rose wants her own genteel little shop and Iris dreams of learning to paint. But both girls bear the scars of living in an era where medical care...
  • Zuzana N
    Fabulously written historical fiction set in London in 1850 with this eye catching cover will become the best seller of 2019!I don’t tend to go for historical genres very often but this one just grabbed my attention from the first chapter. Iris, an aspiring artist, lives her repetitive life working in the doll factory with her sister. Every evening ends the same way every morning began. Painting dolls faces is not quite what Iris wants to do, s...
  • Theresa Smith
    The Doll Factory is exactly my kind of novel. Set in Victorian London, it’s a real mish-mash in terms of genre: Penny Dreadful meets Dickens with a dash of Keats – I was swooning from the first page to the last, such a treat this novel was for me. Victorian London is depicted in all its gruesome grimy glory, and against this backdrop we meet Iris, an apprentice doll maker and aspiring artist, stifled by her lot in life.‘She will never escap...
  • Lou
    Exquisite. Simply exquisite historical fiction. Winner of the Caledonia Novel Award 2018 and touted as Picador's most spectacular debut for 2019 it is difficult to explain just how sublime this was, and I am almost lost for words to describe the stunning fragility and intrigue this story brings. Set in 1850s Victorian London, the period detail is perfect invoking the sight, scents and sounds of this great city; it's clear Ms Macneal has researche...
  • Vikki Patis
    Historical fiction is one of my favourite genres, and I especially like books which do not flinch away from the harsh realities of the time in which they are set. The Doll Factory is such a novel, which follows the lives of Iris and Silas, bound together only by his infatuation with her. Iris is a strong, intelligent woman who has, in many ways, freed herself from the constraints of society by giving up her respectable post in a doll shop, abando...
  • 4cats
    Victorian Britain has never felt more alive, I absolutely loved The Doll Factory. The novel reads like a dream. I loved the mix of fact with fiction, the central characters are fictional creations who work so well with Millais, Rossetti and the Pre raphaelite group. The relationship between Iris and her twin sister Rose, is totally believeable and I must say Silas is one of the darkest characters I've read, throughout the novel I had this sense o...
  • Tahlia
    (Gifted) Blog Post:*I was provided with an ARC by the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion. All quotes used may be subject to change upon publication.Firstly, I want to state that I’m still not completely over this book and consequently, my feelings are all over the place, but I will to try and write a review worthy of this book. It’s just magic...
  • Kelly Van Damme
    There has been some fuss lately about debut authors, and the kind of marketing they are getting, to the detriment of established authors. I agree that debut authors are often praised like they’re the best thing since sliced bread, and I have to admit that always makes me feel a bit wary and perhaps even a little wayward: you know what, I’ll make up my own mind about how great this debut is thank you very much! However, every once in a while a...
  • Jayne Catherine pinkett
    Review to come. I need to consider what I feelI received an early copy from the publishers and NetGalley in return for my independent honest review. Thank you. This is a creepy gothic historical tale. The author captures the atmosphere of Victorian times in all its glory. The good,the bad and the ugly. You can imagine yourself there,the sights the sounds,the tastes and smells. It does contain grisly content featuring the work of the taxidermist S...
  • Hayley (Backpacking Bookworm)
    Set in 1850 London, this evocative book expertly intertwines themes of love, art and obsession. Iris and her twin sister Rose paint dolls for grouchy Mrs Salter in her Doll Emporium. Iris dreams of becoming a painter and is shocked when she is approached to model for Louis - an up and coming artist who thinks Iris is the perfect muse for his current project. Torn between leaving her sister and following her dream, she finally relents and leaves t...
  • Andrea Hicks
    My thanks to PIcador/Pan Macmillan and Net Galley for giving me the opportunity to read THE DOLL FACTORY.I want to say 'wow' but I'm not sure it's even good enough for this amazing novel.. Elizabeth Macneal took me into her world and kept me there. I felt totally immersed in the story and by the end I was cheering, willing Iris to succeed. I read a lot of historical fiction, but this was so very different. What a debut!The story is set in London ...
  • Heather Nazmdeh
    Oh yes, this is more like it. Proper historical fiction with real characters making an appearance. It is gritty stuff. You really wouldn’t want to be poor in Victorian England but the strugglers and chancers make the best reading. It is stuffed full of curiosities and deformity, lightness and dark, hope and despair. It is a cracking read.
  • Ingstje
    4.5 starsWell I am a real fan of historical novels from now on, I am so impressed with this novel! The Doll Factory is another beautiful historical fiction novel set in 1850’s London. I was completely lost in its wonderful setting. The novel is also very rich in contrasting elements that made it even more of a delight to read. There’s not only society’s eternal divide between the rich and poor but there’re also amazing oppositions with lo...