The Doll Factory
Picador's most spectacular debut for 2019
by Elizabeth Macneal
Pub Date 02 May 2019
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'A sharp, scary, gorgeously evocative tale of love, art and obsession' Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl on the Train
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 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 . . .
'An astonishingly good debut. Macneal writes with utter mastery...I couldn't put it down. You won't be able to either' Elizabeth Day, author of The Party
'A stunning novel...each small thread leads to an unbearably tense and chilling denouement that had me totally gripped.' Sophie Mackintosh, author of Man Booker Prize-longlisted The Water Cure
'A gripping, artfully written historical novel with a highly contemporary sensibility. Part love story, part gothic novel and leading up to a truly breathless conclusion, this book is destined to be one of the biggest titles of 2019.' Sharlene Teo, author of Ponti
'A sharp, scary, gorgeously evocative tale of love, art and obsession' (Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl on the Train)
'The Doll Factory is brilliant, with a refreshingly original quality, beautifully orchestrated narrative, great characters and some fascinating background detail' (Andrew Taylor, No. 1 Sunday Times bestselling author of The Ashes of London and The American Boy)
'An astonishingly good debut. The Doll Factory reminded me of The Crimson Petal and the White, Fingersmith and Vanity Fair but had a richness of tone that was uniquely its own. Macneal writes with utter mastery, creating a lushly intricate world peopled by living, breathing characters you can’t help but fall in love with and a plot that rattles like a speeding carriage to its thrilling conclusion. I couldn’t put it down. You won’t be able to either' (Elizabeth Day, author of The Party)
'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)
'The Doll Factory is engrossing and atmospheric. Fascinating real historical background (the Pre-Raphaelites) and super invented characters. I can practically see the TV version!' (Adele Geras, author of The Ballet Class)
'With strong echoes of John Fowles' The Collector, The Doll Factory is at once a vivid depiction of a morally dubious world, and a page-turning psychological thriller, with a truly compelling villain' (Essie Fox, author of The Somnambulist)
'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 a gripping, artfully written historical novel with a highly contemporary sensibility. The setting - 19th century London full of pomp, grime and menace - plays just one part in an immersive and intellectually satisfying narrative that interrogates gender politics, classism, relationships, artistic obsession and erotomania with a painterly eye and gleefully dark heart. Part love story, part gothic novel and leading up to a truly breathless conclusion, this book is destined to be one of the biggest titles of 2019, deservedly so.' (Sharlene Teo, author of Ponti)
'The sort of book you want to read curled up by a fire while your fingers twitch to find out what happens next. But if no fires are available it is just as absorbing on tube carriages and park benches.' (Rowan Hisayo Buchanan, author of Harmless Like You)