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The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal
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The Doll Factory (edition 2019)

by Elizabeth Macneal (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3922651,489 (3.71)7
"A sharp, scary, gorgeously evocative tale of love, art and obsession" Paula Hawkins, bestselling 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 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 . . .PRAISE FOR THE DOLL FACTORY"This brilliant literary thriller gripped me from the opening page and didn't relinquish its hold until I'd read the final sentence... Elizabeth Macneal has created that rare thing: a beautifully researched historical novel with a plot to stop your heart." Hannah Kent, author of Burial Rites and The Good People "A stunning novel that twines together power, art, and obsession. At every turn expectations are confounded - it's a historical novel and yet feels incredibly relevant and timely. I loved its warmth, it's wry humour, and the way each small thread leads into an unbearably tense and chilling denouement that had me totally gripped" Sophie Mackintosh, Man Booker Prize longlisted author of The Water Cure"The Doll Factory is one of the best books I've read in ages - heartbreaking and evocative. Elizabeth Macneal draws a vivid picture of life in 1850s London, exploring the world of the pre-Raphaelites and examining the position of women through her unforgettable heroine. At the same time, Elizabeth creates a perfectly structured and page-turning story of love and passion; crime and obsession. A wonderful and intense novel. I loved it." Jenny Quintana, author of The Missing Girl"I loved The Doll Factory from the very first page and couldn't do anything else until I'd read right to the end. An exquisite novel of obsession, delusion, resilience and love, Elizabeth Macneal really is a breathtaking new talent" AJ Pearce, author of Dear Mrs Bird"A remarkably assured and beautifully written debut, filled with sinister delights and intriguing themes of imprisonment and objectification. A truly captivating read" E C Fremantle, author of The Poison Bed… (more)
Member:AditiSantosh
Title:The Doll Factory
Authors:Elizabeth Macneal (Author)
Info:Picador (2019), Edition: Air Iri OME, 336 pages
Collections:Your library
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The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal

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Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
"A clunk, a grind of iron on iron, a splintering of wood. The horse screams...the moment of impact...he is tossed like a rag doll under the churning wheels of the cart...the iron splits his skull as easily as an eggshell..."

I enjoyed many elements of this book, including the actual historical events of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, the Great Exhibition and The Crystal Palace. The back-story between Iris and Rose was interesting, as was the development of the relationship between Iris and Louis. This often had the feel of a Victorian gothic fiction, particularly with the more seedy elements of prostitution, cruelty and squalor. Yet, it was not dark enough. It dragged a little in the middle and occasionally came across as a developing love-story (with dodgy sex) and a family drama rather than a sinister thriller. Silas was certainly creepy and deranged, but there was not enough focus on him or his past. When he finally sprang into action it all took place rather quickly with a frustratingly dull ending. ( )
  moosenoose | Oct 24, 2021 |
London in the 1850s where the story of various characters are played out. Of Iris and her once beautiful sister Rose working in the Doll Factory. But Iris aspires for more, to become an artist. Then she meets the pre-Raphaelite artist Louis Frost.
Silas, a taxidermist and collector. When he meets Iris he cannot forget her, and becomes obsessed to the point that he must own her.
But what of Albie, the pickpocket, and his sister.
A dark gothic historical fiction tale of Victorian London. A well-written story with its interesting characters.
A NetGalley Book

( )
  Vesper1931 | Jul 29, 2021 |
The setting is 1850’s London on the cusp of the Great Exhibition, where carefully curated art and other creative efforts are given the honor of display. It is also a London with vast social inequality and the lower classes whose back bears all the effort with little hope for gain. The portrayal of this bifurcated city is rendered by Elizabeth Macneal in The Doll Factory, a thriller that highlights the challenges of the era. Iris and Rose toil under the supervision of their abusive employer, painting and preparing dolls for sale. They are captives to their life station, both being disfigured and indentured to the work by their parents. There is little expectation for their advancement or possibility of choice. While Rose is resigned to this fate, Iris is more inclined to rebel and follow her artistic dreams. Meanwhile, Albie is introduced as an endearing “street rat” who cobbles together a living by sewing basic skirts for the doll shop and collecting dead curiosities. These last are supplied to Silas, the local taxidermist who mainly sells his works as props for painters or for costume adornment. When Iris rises to the attention of a young and rising painter, she sees this as an opportunity to recreate her life. Still, she is torn between loyalty to her sister and family, personal values, and the potential for excitement and adventure. She agrees to model for Louis in exchange for painting lessons but becomes increasingly enraptured by her benefactor and the art world he inhabits. Meanwhile, Iris has also caught Silas’ eye and the lonely and disturbed man has evil designs of his own for her. The Doll Factory serves as a commentary on how women’s choices and opportunities are predicated on their dependency on men. Iris is traded and bartered as an object, as a doll painter, a model and subject of dangerous erotomania for Silas. Macneal’s novel is thrilling, fast-paced and the setting is painstakingly described to reflect the horrors and despair experienced by the lower classes. It falls a bit short in the romantic scenes, which seem overwrought and unnecessary. There is also a divergent subplot about Louis’ past life that detracts from the main story. Despite this, The Doll Factory will definitely quicken its readers’ pulses while also unflinchingly depicting the beauty and filth that coursed through London at the time.

Thanks to the author, Picador, and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an unbiased review. ( )
  jnmegan | Jun 3, 2021 |
The Doll Factory (2020) by Elizabeth Macneal was this month’s pick of my library’s online reading group.

This was an odd book, not at all what I would usually choose but I am really glad that I read it.
I can only describe this book as so many other reviewers seemed to have done also: Gothic, Victorian, creepy, full of descriptions of squalor and cruelty, and featuring one character that is a very sick man. However, I really liked how the author used the time and settings – both in the London underbelly and amongst the Pre-Raphaelites – to set off the characters’ different views of life, and I liked the investigation of the male gaze from at least three different points of view.
I very much appreciated the ending, too, but if nothing else I really liked the atmosphere that the author was able to conjure up, even if it was creepy and bleak. ( )
  BrokenTune | May 30, 2021 |
So gothic! So darkly creepy-cool! I thoroughly enjoyed this book!

The story is set in 1850s Victorian London. Iris and her twin sister Rose work at Mrs. Salter's Doll Factory. But Iris wants more... She isn't content with a life spent painting delicate porcelain dolls. Painting children's playthings or mourning dolls memorializing the dead isn't enough. Iris wants to be a professional artist. She meets two men....one an artist who can help her fulfill her dream and another who will becoming completely obsessed with possessing her.....

Wow.....this book is dark, creepy and unputdownable! Total binge read....I stayed up half the night reading because I had to know what happened! I love old Hollywood movies...especially the gothic style horror movies made in the 50s & 60s. This story reminded me so much of those movies -- like House of Wax (the 1953 version, not the horrible re-make), Fall of the House of Usher, The Raven, etc. As I read, I imagined the movie version in my head. Silas would be played by Vincent Price, of course, and Peter Lorre as Louis. Made for a great reading experience! I could even imagine the dialogue spoken in those two actors' unmistakable voices. Loved it!

Some portions of this story depict animal cruelty, mental illness and some disturbing imagery. Be prepared for it... Parental guidance suggested before allowing younger teens to read this book. Just be aware it has some adult subjects, violent/graphic imagery and some harsh topics -- stalking, murder, etc.

The Doll Factory is Elizabeth Macneal's debut novel! I will definitely be looking for more from this new author! I see in the book blurb that the television rights have been sold to Buccaneer Media....will definitely be on the lookout for a film version (even if it can't have Price & Lorre!)

**I voluntarily read a review copy of this book from Atria books via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are entirely my own. Warning: Book may cause sleep deprivation in lovers of gothic style horror. Enjoy! :)** ( )
  JuliW | Nov 22, 2020 |
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When the streets are at their darkest and quietest, a girl settles at a small desk in the cellar of a dollmaker's shop.
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"A sharp, scary, gorgeously evocative tale of love, art and obsession" Paula Hawkins, bestselling 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 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 . . .PRAISE FOR THE DOLL FACTORY"This brilliant literary thriller gripped me from the opening page and didn't relinquish its hold until I'd read the final sentence... Elizabeth Macneal has created that rare thing: a beautifully researched historical novel with a plot to stop your heart." Hannah Kent, author of Burial Rites and The Good People "A stunning novel that twines together power, art, and obsession. At every turn expectations are confounded - it's a historical novel and yet feels incredibly relevant and timely. I loved its warmth, it's wry humour, and the way each small thread leads into an unbearably tense and chilling denouement that had me totally gripped" Sophie Mackintosh, Man Booker Prize longlisted author of The Water Cure"The Doll Factory is one of the best books I've read in ages - heartbreaking and evocative. Elizabeth Macneal draws a vivid picture of life in 1850s London, exploring the world of the pre-Raphaelites and examining the position of women through her unforgettable heroine. At the same time, Elizabeth creates a perfectly structured and page-turning story of love and passion; crime and obsession. A wonderful and intense novel. I loved it." Jenny Quintana, author of The Missing Girl"I loved The Doll Factory from the very first page and couldn't do anything else until I'd read right to the end. An exquisite novel of obsession, delusion, resilience and love, Elizabeth Macneal really is a breathtaking new talent" AJ Pearce, author of Dear Mrs Bird"A remarkably assured and beautifully written debut, filled with sinister delights and intriguing themes of imprisonment and objectification. A truly captivating read" E C Fremantle, author of The Poison Bed

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