The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal
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 . . .
Silas is sitting at his desk, a stuffed turtle dove in his palm. The cellar is as still and quiet as a tomb, aside from the slow gusts of his breath which ruffles the bird’s plumage.
I have spoken many times of my love for art in books, and that was a big part of this novel. Our main character, Iris, is an inspiring artist who sits as a model for Louis Frost- a fictional artist who Macneal has made part of the real group Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. I was also intrigued about them and discovered that they were a interesting group of characters! I loved the part that art played in this story and it is a big reason why I ended up loving The Doll Factory as much as I did.
Silas, who I guess you could say is a taxidermist, is a complex character. There were moments where I felt so sorry for him despite is deplorable actions. I do not want to say too much about him because he is someone who is best discovered on your own.
There is also an interesting sibling relationship that part of me wishes was explored even more. Iris has a twin, Rose, and their relationship has its ups and downs but I never felt like I got the closure that I wanted.
I have to point out that there was some animal abuse that made me very uncomfortable and was difficult to read.
I recommend this book to the right audience- it will not be for everyone. If you like dark historical fiction that makes you uncomfortable and will keep you up at night, than this is the book for you.
15 thoughts on “Book Review- The Doll Factory”
This sounds really interesting. I agree with you about a book prompting you to do your own research, such a great thing.
It is! To me that is a sign of an amazing historical fiction novel.
Great review, Kristin. I found this a gripping read and I have to agree with you about the setting, it was brilliantly realised. 🙂
Thank you! Such an atmospheric setting. I can’t wait to see what the author writes next.
I’ve been considering this book! It sounds interesting 🙂 Great review!
Thank you. If it sounds like something you would like I would go for it!
This one sounds right up my street and I’m excited to get to it! Glad to hear you enjoyed it so much 😊
I do think it’s something you’ll love!
Great review, this sounds excellent! It’s been on my TBR but I should definitely make it more of a priority. I’m glad it worked so well for you!
Thank you! It’s a dark one for sure. Perfect to read in October. I think you’ll enjoy it too!
I want to read this book since the day I saw the cover and read the premise. It sounds amazing and I think I am the audience who’d appreciate it.
I enjoyed reading your thoughts!
I am so excited to see what you think! You definitely have to be the right reader for this one, and if you are you will love it!
I’m interested to read this sometime as I’m very curious as to what it’s about. I also agree with you about it being wonderful when books make you want to look up the events within them, I find history fascinating anyway which probably helps but it is wonderful when learning about something in a book pushes you to discover more about the event/person etc in question
Yes! I think that is why historical fiction is my favourite genre. I feel more immersed in the story knowing that it is based in some truth that I can research more about.
Yes that’s so true. I really need to start reading more of it. I have s lot of historical fiction on my TBR but never seem to get around to picking them up.