The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal

The Doll Factory

The 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 for Silas, a collector entranced by the strange and beautiful, that meeting marks a new beginning. When Iris is aske...

Details The Doll Factory

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

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...
  • Liz
    The Doll Factory imagines an 1850 London that could easily have been written by Dickens. We see Albie, the street urchin with but a single tooth, who collects dead animals for Silas, a taxidermist and a collector who dreams of having his own museum of oddities. Twin sisters, Iris and Rose, paint and cloth china dolls for Mrs. Salter, their laudanum addicted mistress. When Iris meets Louis Frost, a pre-Raphaelite painter, she strikes a bargain wit...
  • Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
    Happy pub day to this creepy blend of hist fic and mystery! 🦋 🦋 🦋 🦋 The Doll Factory is set in 1850s London. The Great Exhibition is going up on Hyde Park. It’s an art exhibition and among the crowd watching the event are Iris and Silas, who meet by chance. Iris is an aspiring artist and Silas is collector of curiosities and a taxidermist (creepy!). Iris does not think much of the meeting, but to Silas, it’s a point of importance....
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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.
  • Nenia ⭐ Literary Garbage Can ⭐ Campbell
    Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || PinterestI'm a sucker for stories about murderous obsession, especially if it's channeled through art. John Fowles's THE COLLECTOR was about a butterfly collector who decided to broaden his repertoire to include a woman, and Patrick Süskind's PERFUME is about a perfume creator who wants to perfect the scent of a young girl. THE DOLL FACTORY, with its compellingly creepy summary, seemed like it would ...
  • Rebecca
    (Nearly 4.5) Victorian pastiches are among my very favorite things to read, but (not least because I have an MA in Victorian Literature) I’m awfully picky about them. This one’s a winner, perfect for fans of Michel Faber, John Fowles, and Sarahs Moss, Perry and Waters. It’s set over a year and a half in the early 1850s and focuses on the Great Exhibition and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, but it also rootles around in the everyday world of...
  • 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...
  • Carolyn
    Many thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for this evocative and atmospheric historical novel. Told in lush prose it captures the artistry and vivid colours of the controversial Pre-Raphaelite movement, and artistic and romantic passion. It also places us into the filth, poverty, vice, and reeking squalor of London in the mid-1800s. Foremost in the story is the delusion and deranged obsession of a twisted mind. It is astonishing that this got...
  • Chris C - A Midlife Wife
    Odd and yet captivating. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~I have to say that this book is a combination of odd, creepy, and even a bit disturbing. While it was somewhat what I thought it would be, this author delves into the downtrodden, under belly of Victorian London.She shows us a world that is scary and creepy. Her descriptions are such that you can just visualize the filth and despair. Desperation and fear abounds in such a matter that you are sucked righ...
  • Zoe
    Gothic, evocative, and eerie!The Doll Factory is a riveting, gritty tale set in London in the mid-1800s at a time when the city was bustling, scavenging was prevalent, respectability meant everything, The Great Exhibition was a structural marvel, and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was redefining visual art.There are three main memorable characters in this novel; Iris Whittle, a young red-headed girl who dreams of becoming an artist and unconsciou...
  • 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 ...
  • Amanda - Mrs B's Book Reviews
    *https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.comThe Doll Factory is the debut novel from Elizabeth Macneal. The recipient of the 2018 New Caledonia Novel Award, The Doll Factory is a potent historical tale, exposing a world filled with artistry, passion, compulsion and control. A book that thrusts the reader into days gone by, The Doll Factory is a highly authentic and fresh tale from an emerging author.Set in London in the year 1850, Elizabeth Macneal rec...
  • Natalie M
    This is definitely a unique read which I thoroughly enjoyed. Edging towards the gothic this historical thriller is an excellent debut novel by author Macneal. The page-turner epitomises life in Victorian England where ideations of beauty, societal expectations and norms are both conformed to and challenged by this author.Silas, an unforgettable psychologically disturbed character with many obsessions and a need to possess, is the character who le...
  • Michael
    Being poor in any era is always going to create hurdles that are incredibly hard to overcome. Throw in being a woman and those obstacles can seem insurmountable. That is very much the case for Iris Whittle who along with her sister Rose works for a pittance in a doll factory in London in 1850. Iris longs to be a famous painter but has resided herself to the fact she will never be able to achieve such status.When Iris is unexpectedly approached by...
  • 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 ...
  • 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.
  • Janet
    I received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸. Obsession is an art.In this “sharp, scary, gorgeously evocative tale of love, art, and obsession” (Paula Hawkins, bestselling author of The Girl on the Train), a beautiful young woman aspires to b...
  • 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...
  • Alaina
    This book was a bit slow to get into but once I did.. it was super creepy.The Doll Factory was an interesting book. Don't get me wrong... but one little thing that not a lot people know about me.. is that dolls creep me out. Ya know.. like Annabelle, Barbie, whatever - they all creep me out. So I was a bit hesitant to dive into this but then it had murder in it - so yeah, I was down.In this, you will meet Iris. She's wanted to be an artist for al...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • Jane
    I have seen this much written about, much praised slice of dark Victoriana compared with books like The Collector, The Crimson Petal and the White, and Fingersmith. Though I don’t think this book is in that class, I can see why the comparisons have been drawn, and it holds a dark and compelling story that has much to say.At the centre of the story is Iris Whittle, who spends her days working at a Regent Street doll shop, painting features onto ...
  • Jammin Jenny
    I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I loved this book! Great character development, great story lines, and awesome timing in the book. The story is set in the mid 1800s in London, where a man falls in love with a woman with a broken clavicle. She falls in love with an artist, and the artist loves her too. The other man is kind of crazy (actually really crazy), and he does some really awful things. I highly recomm...